• Aquino played it safe: No written order on DAP

    19

    President Aquino has been pig-headedly defending his so-called Disbursement Acceleration Plan (DAP), despite the snowballing outrage against it, despite the consensus among constitutional experts that it is patently illegal, since it essentially throws to the dustbin Congress’ budget laws.

    However, it seems that Aquino—or his closest legal advisers—wasn’t so sure himself. He played it safe to shield himself from an impeachment move that could arise from such blatant violation of the Constitution:

    Aquino had not issued any written authorization to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to undertake the DAP whether in the form of an executive order, memorandum, memorandum circular, or even a marginal note.

    This is despite the fact that funds hijacked for it represented a huge chunk of government spending, totaling, according to official administration figures, P158 billion: P84 billion in 2011, P59 billion in 2012, and so far this year P15 billion.

    The only documentation on the controversial DAP: What directive? Verbal?

    The only documentation on the controversial DAP: What directive? Verbal?

    I made an exhaustive search in official government websites, that at the www.gov.ph, (which has been transformed into the government’s Official Gazette, making it the repository of all official documents originating from the Office of the President) and that of the budget and management department. I could find no document coming from the President ordering Abad to set up the DAP.

    How could such an important executive action not be covered by any written order?

    Exasperated, I called several of my sources in government. I was told in various, but terse ways: “There is none.”

    Only press releases

    What passes off as “documentation” for the DAP were the press releases by the DBM and a “Q&A on the Disbursement Acceleration Program”, which were posted at Malacañang’s website.

    The DBM press statements were purportedly released on October 12, 2011 entitled “Aquino government pursues P72.11-B disbursement acceleration plan”; on December 13, 2011, “85% of P72-B disbursement acceleration plan already released”; and on January 9, 2012, “96% of P72.11-B disbursement acceleration already released, 77.5% disbursed”. Lastly, and only released last month after the controversy broke out, is a “Q& A on the Disbursement Acceleration Program”.

    Very significant in the three press releases by the DBM is that these do not refer to any documented Aquino directive ordering the setting up of the DAP, but portrayed it as merely the budget department’s initiative.

    An Aquino order on the DAP is mentioned only in the “Q & A”: “The DAP was approved by the President on October 12, 2011.” However, while it provided links to the DBM press releases and to a lengthy legal brief defending the DAP, it did not post any written order by Aquino on the DAP. How did he approve it? Just verbally?

    But how could the DBM defy Congress by changing the appropriations it ordered, without any documentation?

    Only a single document for DAP

    There is only one official document ordering the DAP: Budget Secretary Abad’s National Budget Circular No. 541 of July 18, 2012. Strangely though, it did not use the term “Disbursement Acceleration Plan” and was even innocuously titled “Adoption of Operational Efficiency Measure—Withdrawal of Agencies Unobligated Allotments as of June 30, 2012.”

    In fact, neither Aquino nor Abad, after the January 2012 press release, would mention again or refer to the DAP, as if it wanted it forgotten. They did so only in September 2013, in their reply to a Senator Jinggoy Estrada speech that mentioned it as the source of bribe money for the Senate to remove Chief Justice Renato Corona.

    The circular described the DAP’s justification and aims.

    “For the first five months of 2012, the National government has not met its spending targets. In order to accelerate spending and sustain the fiscal targets during the year, expenditure measures have to be implemented..”

    In order to speed up expenditures, the circular noted, “the President per directive issued June 27, 2012 authorized the withdrawal of unobligated allotments of agencies with low levels of obligations as of June 30, 2012..”

    The circular meant that budgets for 2012 for government entities that had not been used (“unobligated”) as of June 30, 2012 would be withdrawn. The DBM will then use these funds (according to the order’s item 5.7) “to augment existing programs and projects of any agency and to fund priority programs and projects not considered in the 2012 budget..” (Emphasis in the circular itself, not mine.)

    Order didn’t make sense

    The order didn’t make sense: What was rationally programmed by an agency to be used for the second half of the year was deemed as, due to its inefficiency, and the funds for the rest of the year, confiscated.

    (I could not find any similar documentation authorizing the P84 billion hijacked for the DAP in 2011. Abad apparently simply directed his agency to use for projects identified as under the DAP the P30 billion unused 2011 budget for personal services, P22 billion unused appropriations in 2010, and P12 billion of profits of state firms. These are patently illegal however, as there is no ambiguity in budget laws that these funds should have been reverted to the General Fund, the use of which is determined by Congress every year through its appropriations law. )

    The order actually shocked many government officials and the DBM bureaucracy—that funds unused at the middle of the year were impounded. Suddenly, projects clearly authorized by the 2012 Appropriations Law were cancelled. Reckless and profligate agencies that used their whole-year’s budget by the middle of the year were in effect awarded.

    But for such a game-changing order, Abad did not “annex” in his memorandum the presidential directive authorizing such confiscation.  Was it just verbal?

    And which is which? Did Aquino authorize—even just verbally—the DAP on October 12, 2011 as the “Q & A” had claimed, or was it on June 27, 2012, according to the circular? Or was Abad just lying that Aquino issued a written order that he gave different dates?

    Preposterous: no written directive

    That Aquino didn’t issue a written order is preposterous, as our entire presidential system is built on a mountain of documents, so there would be accountability, so there would be no ambiguity in a President’s decisions and orders.

    But Aquino may have thought he was clever in not issuing any written order on the DAP, thinking that this would clear him from impeachment if ever—as it has come to pass, quite accidentally—its unconstitutional features are exposed.

    It’s another nail though on his DAP’s coffin. Even if one assumes that the DAP is constitutional when it changed the budget allocations from those authorized by Congress, and merely realigned these, the Constitution very categorically says that only the President (or the heads of the other branches of government and the constitutional commissions) can do so.

    But it turns out now that Aquino never ordered it—at least in the way that a President issues orders, which is in written, documented form. Only Abad did in his National Budget Circular No. 541 did.

    Once the Supreme Court rules his DAP unconstitutional, Abad will likely be Aquino’s scapegoat. The President will claim that his budget secretary didn’t understand him, or misheard his verbal go-ahead to accelerate government spending to stimulate the economy.

    If that happens, I wonder if Abad again be leading what would be Hyatt 10, Part II.

    tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com

    www.rigobertotiglao@gmail.com and www.trigger.ph

    Share.
    loading...
    Loading...

    Please follow our commenting guidelines.

    19 Comments

    1. yes. it’s dap. but where did the recipients spent it? Did it go straight to their pockets? show us the projects.. if not.. jail those crooks.

    2. Significant to me are the dates of disbursement. 85% of the DAP was released on December 13, 2011, a day after 188 congressmen railroaded the impeachment compalaint against Chief Justice Corona. Then on January 9, 2012, a few days before the beginning of the trial, 96% of the so-called development acceleration plan was released. What exactly were they trying to accelerate? the Chief Justice’s conviction, no doubt.

      Second, Aquino cannot feign ignorance or innocence in any of this, especially after he has repeatedly defended it, even on primetime tv! He is definitely in the thick of things, and I’m sure Abad and the Hyatt 10 will make sure they don’t go down without him.

      Lastly, they are obviously scrambling to make a sensible excuse for their unconstitutional acts. They never thought they’d be caught red-handed. Kudos to you, Mr. Tiglao, for going the extra mile to extensively research on these facts.

    3. Pres. Aquino can’t escape responsibility when the Supreme Court finally ruled that DAP is unconstitutional. A true leader must admit his failures and take responsibility. The public perception is Aquino is incompetent, lacks leadership skills, and has no courage to face reality. He is a hypocrite to believe he is competent when he is not. This is the problem when money factor than competence and integrity accounts far more greater in electing a leader. The other failure of Aquino is that he is beholden to a lot of people who made him President and these people mostly were dishonest, corrupt and have their own self interest and agenda. In the end, the Filipino people and the entire nation suffers….

    4. The AQUINO Government is pretty clear to me the most TRANSPARENT among the previous administration that held Office in Malacanang, – unprecedented indeed in the annals of Philippine presidency.

      One parent anomaly transfer from another anomalous parents, co-mingling with other anomalous parents, thus, begetting another hidden bastardized anomaly(ies).

    5. That’s because DAP was only created recently when Sen. Jonggoy delivered his privileged speech. The PORK Barrel King should be ousted to stop him from looting the national treasury.

    6. Kaya nag Hyatt 10 ang group ni Abad, Dinky Soliman kasi hindi nila magawa ang pinaggagawa nila ngayon noong panahon ni GMA dahil hindi kulang sa pito at sobra sa walo ang presidenteng GMA

      • mina,

        your comment on dinky soliman ang PGMA is nowhere related on the subject at hand : the illegal creation of DAP by Aquino and his budget minister Abad amounting to P158 B which were now gone, spent by this government on projects they couldn’t or wouldn’t account to the public, being under the sole discretion of the president BS Aquino. However, i totally accept that you have the right to your own nonsensical opinion. i only ask you to spare readers like me the torture of reading your absurd tattle tale..

    7. I read somewhere this morning that it is actually ROXAS who created this DAP, inplemented only by Abad…it is no secret that Roxas has been running the govt these last 3 years, kaya siya lahat ang bida, sakop niya lahat…

      Di ba yan kasi ang trade-off ni Noynoy when Roxas acceded the presidential candidacy to him….?

    8. Anacy A. Cortez on

      DAP?I think most of the lawmakers or even PNoy were caught suprised about the whole thing.It’s Abad idea.They just briefed about it when it was exposed in the media.Nevertheless;command responsibility applies,so,what’s the next BIG thing that will shake our Beloved Country?People are longing for a government that will give more to the less-privileged and give less to the lucky few oligarchs who are the main players of how our government should be run.

    9. Impeachment is applicable only to duly elected President. Mentally challenged persons are not qualified to become President. Deranged persons are exempted from criminal prosecution. Truly, it is more fun in the Philippines. Maraming nabababaliw sa pinas dahil sa gutom at kahirapan resulta ng too much corruption of the ruling elite. Our only consolation and hope is that God, in his divine way would protect us. Let us leave it to God the appropriate punishment of evil people. What I can offer is prayers that the Philippines would overcome all man made disasters.

    10. Mr. Tiglao

      Take careful note that, for some reason, the DBM press release you cited (originally published in the Official Gazette two years ago on October 12, 2011) now provides this notice issued evidently just recently — “Latest update: October 7, 2013” — printed in a smaller font in the space directly below the headline, following the note “Published: October 12, 2011.”

      So, what was “updated” (or revised) on October 07, 2013 in the original October 12, 2011 DBM press release?

      I think this is, perhaps, the first time that a historical document already appearing or published in the Official Gazette of the Republic is “updated,” or amended — two years later, “after the fact” at that!

    11. Isn’t it even worse that billions of pesos were given as bribes to legislators by the President from a non-existent special fund? Did the tuwid na daan make a detour to hide the disbursement from the people? So much about talk of transparency by this government.

    12. I think DAP was a product of Abad’s idea just to give a name to the funds/money they release to Senators & Congressman during the Corona’s trial. That’s why you cannot find any documents about it and nobody except Abad & Pnoy knows it.
      My questions are:
      1. Can we take appropriated budget from GAA and put it into another project not included in the GAA?
      2. Is giving funds to legislators in the form of PDAP out of realigned budget allowed?
      3. If DAP is not properly documented. What is the basis of its existence? How can it be discussed in the Supreme Court?

    13. Miguel Doromal on

      BS Aquino is not only in danger of losing what remains of his thinning hair but may lose his SANITY as well in the face of so many scandals (e.g. technical malversation thru DAP; BRIBERY thru DAP to oust CJ Corona; JLN contribution to his 2010 presidential campaign as well as Mar Roxas failed VP bid; JLN contribution to TEAM PINOY 2013 senatorial candidates, etc.) that he and his DAP pigs have dug for themselves!

      There is no escaping this sad and tragic downfall that will eventually unfold.

      Wasn’t it just three years ago that he bamboozled us with his UTAK WANG-WANG and ANG DAANG MATUWID fantasies?

      Funny, I am reminded of Yesterday by The Beatles….

      Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
      Now it looks as though they’re here to stay
      Oh, I believe in yesterday

      Suddenly I’m not half the man I used to be
      There’s a shadow hanging over me
      Oh, yesterday came suddenly…

    14. Pinoy Makabayan on

      There’s still such a thing as command responsibility. And if he is found not to have known what DBM is doing, he should still be impeached for betrayal of publuc trust. How can he not know and monitor such a delicate matter which is the safekeeping of our national funds. What about bribery? He still used our money, however he got it, to bribe and that is criminal!

      • Saturnino R. Mendinueto, Jr. on

        Makabayan, tama ka. Sabi nga ng isang Pastor sa isang email napadala sa akin ” A LEADER, EVEN HOW COMPETENT AND HONEST, IF HE TOLERATES THE EVIL PRACTICES OF HIS OFFICAL ( ABAD, ROXAS, DRILLON , BELMONTE ) FAMILY IS MORE GUILTY OF THE SAME EVIL “. Meron nga, Makabayan, ” COMMAND RSPOSIBILITY ” lalo na sya ay Commander-is-Chief at Presidente din”.