President Benigno Aquino 3rd again defended the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) on Wednesday and reiterated that he did not steal from public coffers through this fund scheme.
In his 10-minute speech, the President took a swipe at some personalities involved in the alleged multi-billion peso pork barrel scam and said that they were the ones behind the attacks against the DAP.
He said that his critics intend to distract the public on the issue of the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly perpetrated by Janet Lim-Napoles and several lawmakers.
“ I repeat: The issue here is theft. I did not steal. Those who have been accused of stealing are those who are sowing confusion; they want to dismantle all that we have worked so hard to achieve on the straight path,” he said.
”We were stolen from, we were deceived—and now we are the ones being asked to explain? I have pursued truth and justice, and have been dismantling the systems that breed the abuse of power—and yet I am the one now being called the “Pork Barrel King?” he asked.
Aquino was apparently referring to Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon “Bong” Revilla, who along with 35 other respondents, were charged with plunder for their alleged involvement in the misuse of their pork barrel funds.
The President maintained that DAP has a legal basis.
“Spending through DAP is clearly allowed by the Constitution and by other laws. DAP is only a name for a process in which government can spend both savings and new and additional revenues,” he said.
He noted that the DAP releases were sourced from the overall savings of the national government, which includes unprogrammed funds generated from windfall revenue collections, unreleased appropriations from slow-moving projects, and terminated programs, among others.
”Where did these funds come from? They came from our efforts to stop the connivance of some in bidding for contracts, in padding costs, overpricing, and kickbacks,” he added
The President said that DAP should not be likened to the much maligned Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
“The Disbursement Allocation Program is not pork barrel. The DAP is not theft. Theft is illegal,” he noted.
He said that funds under the DAP went to projects that benefitted the people such as the building of roads, health and education programs for the poor, the program to relocate informal settlers, scholars and sitio electrification program, among others.
“You can decide for yourselves: Is this wrong? When has it ever been wrong to look for a constitutional way to serve our countrymen more effectively?” he asked.
“The benefits of these projects reached our countrymen faster and earlier, and we were able to spend the money allocated yearly in our National Budget more prudently and efficiently,” he added
Aquino said that DAP contributed 1.3 percentage points to the gross domestic product growth of the country in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The program also helped the Philippines acquire investment grade status from the three most reputable credit ratings agencies in the world.
“This economic growth—and its positive effects, which have redounded to our countrymen, especially those in the margins of society—this is the product of principled spending, and not of stealing. Money once pocketed by the corrupt is now being used to help our people, particularly the poor,” he said.