FOR the first time since the Supreme Court (SC) struck out the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) for being unconstitutional, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad will publicly defend the controversial budget scheme when he attends the scheduled Senate hearing on the issue on Thursday.
Abad and Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. confirmed that Malacañang was in the thick of preparing a detailed list of DAP-funded projects that will be submitted to senators.
“Yes. I will be there. We are preparing the list,” Abad said in a text message to The Manila Times on Tuesday.
The Budget chief was originally scheduled to attend a public forum on the DAP at the Rockwell Center in Makati City on July 24. But event organizers told The Times that Abad had requested a postponement, citing his appearance at the Senate hearing.
Among the issues that he is expected to shed light on are allegations that the DAP was used to “bribe” senators into convicting impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012 and reports that majority of special allocation release orders (SAROs) under the DAP were given to lawmakers.
Earlier, Abad said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was already consolidating the list of projects funded through the program to distinguish legislator-backed projects from those housed under government departments and agencies, local government units and government-owned and –controlled corporations.
“Most of the funds released through the DAP were in fact made to National Government departments. After all, we were looking at accelerating government disbursements, and we could do that by supporting fast-moving and high-impact projects, many of which are under national agencies. The list we will soon be releasing will show just that,” Abad said.
The DBM last week released a “vague” list of 116 projects under the DAP that only raised a howl among critics of the administration.
But Coloma said Abad will fully explain the DAP projects at the Senate.
“We know that the DBM is working to complete a comprehensive report on the details of the projects funded under the DAP and this may be discussed during the Senate hearing,” he told a news briefing.
Coloma said the Senate inquiry will provide a “venue” where “all questions may be clarified and answered.”
The Palace official explained that the detailed list will be the Palace’s response to criticisms against the initial list released on Monday last week, after President Benigno Aquino 3rd made a televised defense of the DAP.
“[The first] is a simple listing of all the projects that were listed in the 116 evidence packets included in the government’s pleadings in the Supreme Court,” Coloma said.
“He [Abad] had already explained why there were so many SAROs involved in these projects,” he added.
The list earlier released by the DBM did not include the projects of lawmakers.
There were allegations that the DAP releases to some members of Congress were part of the reward Malacanang gave to lawmakers for supporting Corona’s impeachment.
Of the senators who got the additional allocation, three received the biggest—Franklin Drilon, Francis Escudero and Juan Ponce Enrile
Drilon got P100 million, Ecudero, P99 million and Enrile, P92 million.
But in the DAP list released by the DBM last week, the amounts and projects of the senators were nowhere to be found.
Drilon had said the P100 million additional fund that he got was used to build the IloIlo Convention Center. When asked why the project was not included in the DBM’s list, he explained that the funds were released to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
There are 18 items in the DBM DAP list implemented by the DPWH but there is no mention of the Iloilo Convention Center.