The supreme irony of the presidency of P-Noy is that while it may be the “most honest” of the all the administrations to run our government in the past half a century since the 1960s, it can also probably be the most incompetent or at least the most inept or amateurish. Of course, it is also possible that the Aquino administration is really much smarter than we think and doing a great job trying to make itself appear dumb or naive.
The expose of Senator Jinggoy Estrada last week on the additional P50 million in pork barrel to senators who voted to convict Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona opened the proverbial can of worms. The total amount given to the 19 senators reached an awesome P1.107 billion. And as if these were not enough, members of the House of Representatives received between P10 million to P15 million. Or a total of P2 billion to P3 billion if 200 congressmen availed themselves of it.
Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad of the Department of Budget & Management (DBM) confirmed the additional pork given to congressmen: “The same accommodation we extended to senators, we also extended to the House Representatives.” According to Mr. Abad, many congressmen availed themselves of the extra pork, but he did not have the exact number. It would be interesting to know how many of the honourable representatives did.
However, it was only a week ago last Saturday, 28 September 2013, when the Filipino people first heard of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), when the Secretary issued a press release on the controversy. As it turned out, the extra funds given to senators and congressmen did not come from their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), but from DAP!
So what is DAP? How is it different from the despicable PDAF where P10 billion was lost or stolen from 2007 to 2009 through the alleged scam done by Janet Lim- Napoles with the connivance of corrupt senators and congressmen? For starters, DAP is on top of the P200 million and P70 million allocation each senator and congressman, respectively, receives each year. Only former senators Panfilo “Ping’Lacson and Joker Arroyo have not availed themselves of PDAF in their two terms (12 years) in office.
DAP is a little known lump-sum fund pooled from alleged savings from unused line items in the budget or expenditures of the national government agencies that turned out to be lower than the approved amount. It was introduced in October 2011 to hasten government expenditures since the state agencies were supposedly under-spending with their low “absorptive capacity” to use the funds that were approved in the 2011 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
The economic slowdown was the justification cited for DAP. The economy grew at only about half the projected 7 percent for 2011. It was 7.6 percent in GDP growth in 2010 during the last year of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and only less than one-half at 3.7 percent in 2011. Hence, as Secretary Abad revealed, the DAP “releases were mostly for infrastructure projects to ramp up spending and help accelerate economic growth.”
Senate President Franklin Drilon refers to the DAP as a “Stimulus Fund” to address the under-spending of state agencies and the low economic growth. However, the GDP growth for 2012 was already 6.8 percent, so why still continue with the DAP for year 2013? For the first semester (January to June) of 2013, the economy grew by 7.6 percent compared to 6.4 percent of the same period in 2012. So why continue with the DAP with such impressive growth?
From the way public funds from DAP were allocated and spent, it seems the Disbursement Acceleration Program is meant to accelerate corruption. A good example is the P475 million in extra pork coursed to the Department of Agrarian Reforms (DAR) that were allocated to the senators, which was confirmed by Secretary Butch Abad.
Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. maintains that he did not request for the P100.0 Million from DAP that DBM Secretary Abad claims the senator asked his share to be channelled through the National Livelihood Development Corporation, instead of DAR. However, Mr. Marcos insists that his signature was forged so the funds will be released. An investigation on the P450.0 Million should be forthcoming with the Daan na Matuwid.
The DAR fortuitously did not accept the P450.0 million allocation from DAP. This was due to the P900 million scam in the Malampaya Fund that has been filed by the Department of Justice with the Office of the Ombudsman last Thursday, 03 October 2013.
The topnotcher who received P100 million or almost 10 percent of the P1.107 Billion given to senators who voted for the conviction of Chief Justice Corona is no other than Senate President Drilon, who was the Senate Finance Committee Chairman then.
After Mr. Drilon who received P98 million is no other than Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who was the Senate President then and the Presiding Judge of the Impeachment Court, composed of the members of the Senate, who found Mr. Corona guilty and removed from office.
Senate President Drilon made a good point when he said that ‘the issue here is whether the (DAP) funds were misused or not.” The senator from Iloilo cited the P100.0 Million DAP that he received and was used to construct a convention center in his hometown of Iloilo City, as well to widen the main national road that leads to the airport. These two projects were designed to enhance the bid of Iloilo to be one of the venues for Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) Summit in 2015.
Unfortunately, there is an issue related to the two projects intended for the 2015 APEC Summit. Senator Drilon had promised in 2012 that he will allot P200 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to partly finance the P450 million (later increased to P500.0 Million) Iloilo Convention Center. Now, the newspapers have reported that Mr. Drilon has received the P100 ,illion DAP for the convention center. In fact, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported it “was used to build the convention center. . . .”
DWPH Region VI Director Edilberto Tayao has revealed P500.00 Million has already been released to the DPWH prior to P10.0 Billion PDAF scam that was exposed last August. The total amount came from the P250 million PDAF of Senator Drilon and another P250 million from the Tourism Infrastructure & Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA). So where did the new P100.0 Million DAP to Senator Drilon really go to?
I concur with former Senator Joker Arroyo that the DAP is a source of kickbacks for lawmakers and other corrupt government officials. As what former Senator Lacson said, just like PDAF, “DAP funds is still pork by whatever name you call it.” Our country would be much better off without the evil pork barrel system, whether PDAF or DAP.
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Zamboanga bids goodbye to soldier-heroes
I am from Zamboanga and what happened in the past few weeks was horrible. We like to thank the soldiers for bringing our lives back to normal. We also felt the sadness of soldiers who already left Zamboanga because they could have wanted to stay longer in case they are needed. We likewise are anxious and still somewhat in fear of the MNLF as some may still be around.
But “ok na rin po, kahit nagbuwis sila ng buhay”, because they were able to accomplish their mission to bring back peace in our place. The soldiers told us that they can easily go back to Zamboanga anytime or anywhere in the country, as the Armed Forces of the Philippines has already the capability to transport them back and that’s good news. We know that our “magigiting na sundalo” are always ready and quick to respond to any call for help. This makes us feel better and relieved.
It is a fact that our soldiers will always be willing to render true service in any part of the Philippines. Mabuhay to our soldiers and we hope that our endless gratitude to them also reaches their families.
Jun B. Anecio