NO LESS than the home province of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad received the largest allotment releases from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), based on per capita releases or what each resident in a province could have gotten on average.
From October 2011 to December 2013, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released P133 million to Batanes, which has 16,604 inhabitants as of the 2010 census.
This translates to a DAP release per capita of P8,013, or about 69 times more than the average per capita of some 1,400 other cities and municipalities and just a little less than what minimum wage laborers in Manila get a month.
To be sure, one in every three residents of Batanes is poor.
Based on the income classification data of the Bureau of Local Government Finance, the province has two fifth-class and four sixth-class municipalities, or those earning an annual average of P15 million and below in local taxes and fees. In theory, preference is given to these municipalities when identifying local projects to be subsidized by the national government.
The country’s northernmost province, Batanes prides itself in having unspoiled beauty—something that has attracted both local and foreign tourists. Apparently, though, it thinks it needs more sprucing up. A PCIJ review of the DBM’s list of more than 3,400 DAP releases for “various local and infrastructure projects” reveals that one in three projects in Batanes, or P44 million, went to “greening and beautification program… such as but not limited to planting of trees and/or plants, thoroughfares, and pruning and watering.” A portion of the P44 million was allocated for “100 [percent]greening and beautification project and livelihood program…” implemented in various barangays (villages).
The next largest allocation, or P25 million, was released for the “rehabilitation/improvement of Rudleken Junction Provincial Road” and “concreting of Basco-Songsong Provincial Road.” The bulk of this amount, or P23 million, was transferred to the Department of Works and Highways through a Memorandum of Agreement for ongoing procurement activities.
About P18 million was used for the “rehabilitation of Sabtang mini ice plant,” “construction of Uyugan Centro port” and “Ivana shelter port,” and “improvement/reconstruction of Mahatao fish port.” Wharf construction took P3 million while P1 million went to the “installation of solar lamp posts and accessories.”
But some P8.73 million went to livelihood programs while P6.2 million was released to the Department of Education for implementation of “integration of school for Ivatan living tradition in school curriculum” under the “indigenous people’s (IP) education” program of the government.
Another P1 million was allocated for medical assistance and P500,000 for “construction/rehabilitation of health centers,” “purchase of medicines and health kits” and “assistance to livelihood and development projects.”
Abad served as congressman of the Lone District of Batanes from 1995 to 2004. His wife, Henedina “Dina” Abad, took his seat in Congress in 2004. Dina Abad took a short break from the legislature in 2007 but is now serving her second term as Batanes representative.