The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) on Monday brushed aside another organized demolition plot against Vice President Jejomar Binay, this time by linking him to the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
“There is yet again another effort by the usual suspects to tarnish the name of the Vice President by claiming he was a recipient of DAP,” UNA secretary general Tobias Tiangco said.
He was reacting to the allegations of Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice that Binay received at least P11.45 billion funding from DAP in 2011.
Citing records from the Department of Budget and Management, Erice said Binay got P100 million for the rehabilitation of the Iloilo River, P450 million for the residents of North Triangle in Quezon City, P500 million for the housing project of the Bureau of Fire Protection and P10 billion for the relocation of informal settlers from dangerous areas which went to the National Housing Authority (NHA).
“Binay is the chairman of the NHA and all transactions and decisions within the housing agency will have to pass through him. The 2011 DAP also provided the Home Guaranty Corp., an agency under Binay’s Housing office, with a P400-million equity infusion for its
credit insurance and mortgage guarantee operation,” the Caloocan lawmaker added.
But Tiangco maintained that the Vice President was not a recipient of DAP funds.
He noted that it is amusing that Binay should be linked to the controversial program implemented by Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, who is also a ranking official of the Liberal Party.
“After the failed PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] yarn against the Vice President, the usual suspects seem to be so desperate in attempting to connect DAP to the OVP [Office of the Vice President],” Tiangco said.
“The people behind the smear campaign should do their homework and get their facts straight. In fact, Vice President Binay gave up his office’s PDAF in response to the people’s clamor,” he added.
“With DAP, they should think twice in directly pointing to agencies under HUDCC at baka lalong mapahiya at mabaon ang mga kakampi nila sa LP [or they will be embarrassed more and bury their allies in the Liberal Party],” Tiangco said. President Benigno Aquino 3rd heads the party.
He noted that various agencies under the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) either have their own charters or are directly under the Office of the President.
Binay is also the chairman of the HUDCC.
“If they say these agencies received DAP but it turns out these agencies are under the OP [Office of the President], then they are exposing not only their party mates but the President himself to embarrassment. They will only put the President in bad light on the DAP issue,” Tobias said.
The Supreme Court (SC) is set to vote today on the legality of DAP.
The Manila Times earlier reported that majority of the SC justices will concur with the draft ponencia of Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin that declares DAP as unconstitutional.
An unimpeachable source said the draft decision of Bersamin includes the issuance of a prohibitive injunction warning the President, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House and other agencies who enjoy fiscal autonomy to follow the law when transferring funds.
The source added that the draft ruling declares DBM (Department of Budget and Management) Circular 541, which created DAP, unconstitutional.
But the subject of the last debate in the High Court may be the insistence of some justices, particularly Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno, who wanted to save Aquino from impeachment and criminal liability.
Allies of the President at the tribunal are pushing that the “doctrine of operative facts” be applied. Such doctrine states that while the acts of Aquino will be invalidated, for as long he exercised good faith, then all the effects of his acts shall be considered valid.
Malacañang also on Monday insisted that DAP was not “evil” and that the country benefited from it.
“It is our professed belief that the DAP has benefited the country,” its spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a news briefing.
A lawyer, he maintained that the President did not err when he and Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad implemented the DAP two years ago to “boost” economic activities.
Lacierda said realignment of government savings from one agency to another is allowed by the Constitution.
“When we had a quarter where there was a very low GDP [gross domestic product], we implemented the DAP and it contributed to the various programs of the government, the various agencies,” he explained.
The Palace official dismissed insinuations that the administration employs a “double standard” when it comes to DAP because Aquino was against realignments when he was still a lawmaker.
“We will leave it to the Supreme Court as to [the DAP’s]constitutionality,” Lacierda said.
Also on Monday, The Manila Times reported that an overwhelming majority of SC justices
were expected to concur with the draft ponencia of Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin that declares DAP as unconstitutional.
The Times source in the tribunal said Bersamin’s 95-page draft raised four points on why DAP was illegal—cross-border tossing of funds, use of funds for unlisted projects, implementing new projects even if concerned agencies had no savings to fund such projects and using DAP funds for projects that did not undergo bidding.
The source added that Bersamin’s ponencia declares DBM Circular 541 unconstitutional and orders the issuance of a “prohibitive injunction” against the circular from the Department of Budget and Management.
The circular, issued by Abad on July 18, 2012, created DAP and allowed the DBM to withdraw and pool unobligated allotments of agencies “with low levels of obligations for continuing and current allotments.”
These funds were then used for supposedly priority programs and projects.