More and more, it is becoming apparent that Senate President Franklin Drilon and Budget Secretary Butch Abad had a greater hand in the use—we will not yet say manipulation—of the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP than what they have admitted thus far.
Prior to his elevation as Senate president, Drilon was chairman of the Senate finance committee.
Abad, on the other hand, has been Budget secretary since the beginning of the Aquino administration.
Both men and the rest of the administration tell us that DAP became a necessity after it was learned that the present government had been underspending in its first two years in power.
Most people will see nothing wrong with underspending, as this results in some form of savings.
National budgets are created not only to determine the government’s expenditures. More importantly, budgets are crafted with the end in view of playing a huge role in national development.
If available funds are properly budgeted, economic growth can be plotted and more jobs created.
Thus far, President Benigno Aquino 3rd has been piloting the Philippine economy to steady, even impressive, growth all throughout his watch. He is to be commended for this.
But Mr. Aquino must be aware that misuse of the budget can have tragic consequences.
When funds that are supposed to be spent for essential services end up in the pocket of either private individuals or government officials, the waste can have a direct impact on projected economic growth.
As the name suggests, DAP was intended to force the government bureaucracy to spend faster, thereby spurring the economy to move at a faster clip.
This does not seem to be the case with some of the big DAP-related expenditures. Some of those expenditures appear to have taken the same route as the misuse of some senators’ Priority Development Assistance Fund, better known to all as pork barrel.
Earlier this week, Senator Pia Cayetano said that she had no idea that P10 million had been disbursed on her behalf from the DAP to the Department of Science and Technology.Worst of all, the lady lawmaker even claimed that she had never even heard of the DAP.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said pretty much the same thing. He, too, was clueless on what this DAP was all about. Because he had never availed of his PDAF, Lacson said he was surprised to learn that millions were disbursed on his behalf under DAP.
Last week, Abad tried to explain to the lawmakers and to the public what DAP was all about. He did not quite succeed in convincing everyone that the program was absolutely necessary.
Drilon, for his part, very quickly admitted that he did, in fact, authorize the release of P100 million under his DAP. All for the benefit of his home province of Iloilo, of course.
It was almost irksome how quickly the Senate president stated that not a single peso of that huge sum went to his pocket.
The Senate president and the Budget secretary need to explain to the public once and for all what DAP was all about, and why they were so eager to release those funds. For now, too many people suspect that something fishy went on where the disbursements of the taxpayers’ money is concerned.
After the PDAF scam and the Malampaya scandal, DAP is simply giving an uneasy public good reason to remain restless. It is, after all, their tax money.