Was Budget Secretary Florencio Abad trying to legitimize the distribution of additional allocation to some lawmakers in 2012 by secretly including the name of then-senator Joker Arroyo as among the recipients of monies from Malacañang that later turned out to be part of funds under the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)?
The question seemed to beg for an answer after the former lawmaker disclosed recently that Abad, without his knowledge, allocated P47 million in his name two years ago even without the approval of Congress.
Meanwhile, Arroyo called on the Supreme Court to take notice of the humongous amounts involved in the DAP to see how Abad distributed public funds with “complete abandon.”
“The DAP is the anti-thesis of daang matuwid (straight path), the President’s battle cry. The President cannot keep on waving the banner when Mr. Abad keeps on dragging it down,” he said.
Arroyo, who never availed of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) during his time as a legislator, however, admitted coming up with a proposed amendment to the 2013 General Appropriations Act (GAA) asking that P30 million be allotted for construction of schools and medical assistance for poor patients.
“This (request) was disapproved by my colleagues. I accepted their refusal in good grace as the judgment of my peers, in light of my being an independent,” he said in a statement.
But Abad in effect overruled the judgment of Congress when he appropriated P47 million for Arroyo from DAP funds.
Arroyo said Abad’s action was stated in a letter sent to him by the Budget secretary dated September 30, 2012 after he protested his inclusion in the list of senators who received an additional allocation of P50 million for voting to convict then-Chief Justice Renato Corona.
In his letter to Arroyo, Abad justified his decision to allocate P47 million to the senator, saying Arroyo’s proposal was “in line with the Aquino administration’s development agenda, particularly with respect to providing quality education and health care services to disadvantaged Filipinos.”
The Budget secretary said in the letter that Arroyo never availed of his PDAF or pork barrel, that the P47 million was not approved by Congress and that it was charged instead against the DAP by the Department of Budget and Management.
Arroyo insisted that Abad, by his lonesome and at his level, does not have the authority to allocate at his discretion funds for certain projects and assign disbursements to legislators, local government units (LGUs) and other agencies.
He noted that he voted for the acquittal of Corona in the impeachment trial and yet Abad bestowed upon him the P47 million.
Several lawmakers from the House of Representatives who signed the impeachment complaint and from the Senate who convicted Corona reportedly each received additional allocation from Malacanang amounting to P10 million and P50 million respectively.
The lawmakers admitted receiving the additional allocation but denied that it was related to their decision against Corona. They claimed that they were not aware that what they received was from the DAP.
Abad only admitted the existence of the DAP after Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada revealed in a privilege speech he and other senators got the additional allocation months after the Senate impeachment court convicted Corona.