Vice President Jejomar Binay on Thursday called on Malacañang to be transparent by fully disclosing all projects funded by the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
In a speech before the Rotary Club of Manila, the Vice President said full disclosure is “a good starting point” to prove “good faith” by those who conceived and implemented the controversial program.
“Let me state as a lawyer that the question of accountabilities of government officials would have to be reckoned as part of the legal and logical consequences of this groundbreaking decision. As you all know, the Supreme Court [SC] has placed the onus of proving ‘good faith’ on those who conceived and implemented the DAP,” Binay noted.
“But where do we start? For me, a good starting point would be to make available to the public all the projects funded by the DAP. This is after all consistent with the tenets of full transparency that is the cornerstone of the Aquino administration and I do hope my colleagues will reconsider a reported decision to withhold the release of the so-called DAP list,” he said.
Binay backed a proposal of some sectors for an independent audit of DAP funds.
“This should be done as soon as possible,” he said.
According to the Vice President, the SC decision and the separate concurring opinions are “rather clear, if not brutally frank, on the matter of accountability.”
“There is no room to speculate or look for hidden clues in the decision of the High Court,” he said.
Binay also called for continued vigilance on the pork barrel scam.
“It is essential that we see this cleansing of government to its just conclusion, public service without taint of self-interest, without a tinge of deception and political persecution,” he said.
Buhay party-list Rep. Joselito Atienza agreed with Binay, saying Budget Secretary Florencio ‘Butch” Abad should not ignore the clamor to make a full disclosure of the P147-billion DAP funds.
“Until now, Secretary Abad has been tight-lipped, while Malacañang apologists continue to justify the DAP by mere rhetoric. He was even quoted as saying that he has yet to read the SC decision,” Atienza told reporters.
“This isn’t fair, he has to make a full disclosure of the extent of the program and explain if the funds released through DAP were really used for development projects, not as a reward to loyal political subalterns of the President,” he said.
Abad’s explanation, Atienza added, is urgently needed in light of revelations by several lawmakers that they were simply told in 2012 to submit a list of projects they wanted to implement. The instruction to endorse projects was contained in a confidential note to senators by then Senate finance committee chairman Franklin Drilon, and the recipients of the letters presumed these projects covered by additional funding were to be deemed as budget amendments since there was no mention of the DAP.
Atienza said it is possible that President Benigno Aquino 3rd approved a memorandum granting “omnibus authority” to “consolidate savings/unutilized balances and their realignment” on June 25, 2012, based on Abad’s recommendation.
“This actually explains that DAP wasn’t crafted overnight, but those behind it wanted the President to approve it, even if there are already talks that it would be unconstitutional,” he added.
Atienza also noted that if Malacanang “wanted to speed up allocation of funds to so-called development projects, it could have merely asked Congress for a supplemental budget.”
Also on Thursday, the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) slammed Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda for making excuses for Abad.
“It seems that Lacierda is on automatic deception mode. Whenever there are inquiries on the disbursement of public funds by the executive branch, he is quick to denying any violations whatsoever without any proof or investigation,” BMP’s Gie Relova said.