SEN. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Monday blasted the minefields she discovered in the House-approved P2.6 trillion 2015 national budget.
When submitted to the Senate for its concurrence, as the budgeting process calls for, red flags met Santiago’s inquisitive eyes.
The feisty senator scored in her privilege speech the hideous insertion of a new definition of “savings” and the retention of pork barrel funds under a different heading.
Now, that speaks very well of our Congress representatives’ good faith.
Needless to say, this misleading term “savings” refers to the pooled funds from allocations on “unfinished projects” and realigned by Malacañang to become President Aquino’s pork barrel.
This is none other than the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that the House wants validated by redefining “savings” in next year’s proposed national budget, which becomes the FY2015 General Appropriations Act when signed into law.
That’s why, in her privilege speech, Santiago urged Congress to keep the old definition of savings.
We don’t have to delve into a vague technical discussion of savings.
Truth be told, it’s these technicalities, as well as its financial lingo, that made this alien animal that is the DAP hard for the man on the street to understand.
Sad to say, too, that we in the mainstream media have failed to present a clear and easily understandable explanation of the DAP scam.
But now, we will see how our distinguished senators measure up to the challenge of putting forth the public interest first and rejecting the same scam, as manifested in the national budget pending before them.
It is a welcome development that Santiago, as did Sen. Chiz Escudero earlier, raised nagging questions on the budget bill.
“What happens to the commitment to Congress of the agency head that the agency will deliver a specified level of outputs, such as number of school buildings, completion date, kilometers of roads, linear meters of bridges, and so on? What if certain projects that Congress-authorized but DBM discontinued? These are scenarios for corruption!”
She also questioned the allocation of P37.3 billion worth of projects lump sum to the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Health, and Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Notorious as ever, the DPWH is responsible for many unfinished and abandoned projects for which its officials and contractors have not been held responsible.
Let me ask, why is there such an abundance of unfinished or abandoned projects that the Congress, with its “power of the purse,” made appropriations for?
Aquino asked for a much bigger national budget for 2015 for his spending spree prior to the 2016 elections.
And yet, the executive departments and attached agencies can’t finish their programs and projects.
O, what a brilliant scheme that PNoy’s bagman, budget and management Secretary Butch Abad, came up with. A stroke of genius.
You see, by allowing such a short time for implementing agencies to accomplish their projects, the DBM easily declared countless projects unfinished.
Come to think of it.
What if Sen. Jinggoy Estrada did not say anything about the P50 million “incentive” to each senator who voted for the conviction of impeached chief justice Renato Corona?
The DAP, which was the source of that blood money, would not have been exposed until now. It would not have been declared unlawful until now.
Who can imagine the enormity of the “pool of savings” that PNoy and Abad would still be wallowing in?
That’s what they want to have again. That is what they’re cooking with the 2015 national budget.
All of that amidst a whooping national debt of US$ 127 billion.
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