Administration senators who received P100 million in Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) releases in 2011 on Monday maintained that the funds went to legitimate projects and were not in any way connected to the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Senators Ralph Recto, Senate President pro-tempore; Alan Peter Cayetano, Senate Majority leader; Teofisto Guingona 3rd, Antonio Trillanes 4th, Sergio Osmena 3rd and former senator Francis Pangilinan are being investigated by the Commission on Audit (COA) in connection with the DAP releases.
Cayetano admitted in an interview submitting his proposed project to then Senate finance committee chairman Franklin Drilon, but all senators submit their proposals during every budget deliberation.
“I will confirm that we have been writing letters because all senators and congressmen have their respective advocacies. So usually they tell us P50–P25 million soft projects or P25 million hard or P100 million, it depends on the priority of the government,” he said.
Cayetano said not all project requests are approved by the Budget department.
To put an end to all speculations on the DAP releases, Cayetano said he wrote the COA asking it to audit all the funds allotted to his office from 2007 to the present.
Trillanes also confirmed receiving DAP funds, but said they were for projects that “benefited our countrymen and these are posted on our website for transparency.”
Trillanes noted that none of the funds went to bogus non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or ghost projects, nor did he pocket a single peso.
Like Cayetano and Trillanes, Panglinan said senators are routinely asked to submit project requests and they assume that it will be sourced from their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
He said he never endorsed projects to bogus NGOs.
“The issue here is the abuse and the pocketing of the funds and not its appropriation for legitimate and lawful purposes,” Pangilinan said.
In a separate statement, Drilon insisted that the DAP should not be treated and viewed as another form of PDAF.
He DAP was created to improve the pace of government spending.
“DAP is based on the President’s constitutional power to realign funds. The same power is also granted to the Chief Justice, and heads of the Constitutional and Fiscal Autonomy Group (CFAG),” Drilon said.
The CFAG includes the Judiciary, Civil Service Commission, COA, Commission on Elections and the Office of the Ombudsman.
“This power to realign funds has been exercised by all past presidents, chief justices, Comelec chairmen, etc. The funds are not realigned to the legislature, but from one budget item to another in the same branch,” he added.
In a related development Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito filed a resolution asking the Senate to look into the Aquino administration’s DAP which he said has been drawing criticism from legal experts.
Ejercito said he wants an inquiry on the realignment of P72.11 billion worth of DAP funds from slow-moving projects, pegged as government savings by the budget department.
He also wants the supposed “incentives” given to senators and congressmen who voted to convict Corona investigated.