It has now become crystal-clear that the Disbursement Acceleration program (DAP) created by the Department of Budget & Management (DBM) under the Aquino administration was not just designed purportedly to hasten government spending and spur economic growth. It is a nefarious act of magic that has accelerated corruption by adding the pork barrel allocations to members of Congress and also avoided Legislative scrutiny through the non-inclusion of the DAP in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
As reported in the newspapers, the notorious DAP has increased the pork barrel of legislators in the past two years (2011-2012) by a total of P12.8 billion. This is a bigger sum of public funds by almost 30 percent compared to the P10 billion scam in the Priority Development Assistance (PDAF) funds given to lawmakers in a period of three years (2007-2009). The DBM has admitted that nine percent of the total of P142.23 billion DAP funds in 2011 and 2012 went to the “programs and projects identified by legislators.”
I completely agree with the statement of former Manila Mayor and Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza that “if the aim of the DAP was to stimulate the economy, I don’t think it is proper to give money to senators and representatives to spend.” (Inquirer, 18 October 2013) Indeed, what is the business of lawmakers in identifying projects and programs when their job description is clearly defined as legislative work.
The presidency of President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd now appears to be worse than his predecessor, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who did not have to resort to the magic of the DAP funds that reached more than P140 billion in just 15 months from October 2011 to December 2012. This is an equivalent of P9.5 billion per month in impounding alleged savings from the national budget in the past two years. Amazing!
What is even more amazing is how DBM managed to accumulate a total of P83.53 billion in 2011 with only three months in the last quarter from October to December. That is an average of P27.8 billion per month in savings, which is simple impossible! So how did DBM do it? My colleague Rigoberto Tiglao pointed out how in his column of 12 October 2013 that was based on the government press release of 12 October 2011, which was “repeated in its (DBM) more recent posting at its website on the ‘Q and A’ on the DAP.’”
Mr. Tiglao revealed that one major source of funding for the DAP was “the 2010 unprogrammed fund, to be supported by windfall dividends from Government Owned and Controlled Corporations or GOCCs, (P12.34 billion).” As he analyzed it: “In short, Aquino hijacked the P12.3 billion in profits that government-owned and controlled corporations had turned over to the Treasury. That was just for 2011 though, and still unreported are the amounts for 2012 and 2013.” The GOCCs were the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and the Land Bank.
The revelation of the existence of the DAP funds that surfaced in late September after the privilege speech of Senator Jinggoy Estrada and the complaint-expose of former senator Joker Arroyo confirms my observation on why DPWH has this “habit” of having its projects approved by Congress with a higher budget of more 50% than what the actual projects would cost. A good example is the much-publicized project of the favorite national agency of President Aquino, which he inaugurated in late September last year.
The Quezon Boulevard-C3 Interchange project had an approved budget of P694 million for the four-lane underpass. However, when it was completed, the actual cost was only P430 million. I recall how pleased PNoy was during the televised inauguration on the savings of P264 million from P694M to P430M. What the clueless president apparently was not told is that the astounding 61 percent in savings was actually due to “changes in design,” as later reported in the press.
It now seems that this brilliant tactic of DPWH is tantamount to a “scam.” The P264M savings will be pooled together with other “pseudo-savings” to DAP. In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last 22 July 2013, PNoy proudly announced the savings of P18.4 billion of his beloved DPWH. So the same savings would have pooled together with other billions of pesos of alleged savings for the DAP. Daan na Matuwid?
In the my last column of 12 October 2013, I cited the case of the Sanga-Sanga Airport in Bongao, Tawi-tawi as a example to show that the DAP is not really being used for its original purpose to hasten spending and spur expansion in the economy as the DBM purports it to be. DAP funds could have been used to vastly improve the pathetic airport in the beautiful southernmost island in Mindanao that is just across Sabah in Borneo.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad had earlier explained that DAP “releases were mostly for infrastructure projects to ramp up spending and help accelerate economic growth.” However, DAP funds were not used to improve the Bongao Airport in the capital of Tawi-tawi that can serve as a catalyst for trade and tourism and spur economic growth.
DBM would not release funds from its DAP, say P100 million, for the Bongao Airport in Tawi-Tawi and yet it released P2.8 billion for the reconstruction in two provinces of the 64-km portion of the Ramos national highway that connects Parang, Maguindanao to Malabang, Lanao del Sur. This multi-billion road project was done in coordination with DWPH regional offices in Western, Northern and Central Mindanao.
The dubious P2.8 billion DPWH road project in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur was not approved by Congress. It was funded by DAP.
Why should public works projects amounting to Billions of Pesos not be included as line items in the annual GAA that will be scrutinized by both Houses of Congress? Obviously, there are NO Guidelines with DAP! This is the EVIL when DBM pools together alleged savings, realigns them and spent the billions the way PNoy wants them.