• COA probes 6 senators

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    SIX administration senators who each received P100 million under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) are being investigated by the Commission on Audit (COA).

    Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte on Sunday said senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Teofisto Guingona 3rd, Ralph Recto, Antonio Trillanes 4th, Sergio Osmena 3rd and Francis Pangilinan were given additional allocations in 2011.

    But Valte was quick to add that there was nothing wrong in the release of the DAP allotments, saying it was meant to stimulate the economy.

    She said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released the funds after the lawmakers requested more funds for their priority projects from Sen. Franklin Drilon, who was then chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance.

    In a radio interview, Valte defended the releases, saying the savings in 2011 were re-channeled to stimulate the economy.

    ”In terms of projects, according to [Budget] Secretary [Florencio] Abad this was in November of 2011 when we were trying to catch up with spending,” Valte said.

    Asked if the funds could be fully accounted for, Valte said the COA is looking into the DAP releases.

    “There [were]details on the projects that were spent on at least by the six [senators]… But, yes, ideally that is the subject of COA audit also,” Valte said.

    “I understand that COA is already in the process of auditing projects that were identified under the DAP mechanism, so let’s wait for the results of the audit,” she added.

    The Palace hopes COA will release its audit findings soon, Valte said.

    The DAP funds, she noted, were released to the implementing agencies and not directly to the lawmakers.

    She said that aside from the legislators, the government also welcomed project proposals from national government agencies and bureaus.

    “And they were allowed to identify a certain project as long, provided that it would fall under the requirements for the mechanism,” she said.

    The government “sorely needed to catch up or to accelerate on spending,” Valte said, noting that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at that time was a sluggish 3.6 percent.

    ”While there were inputs, there were suggestions from the legislators, the implementing agencies were still in charge of making sure that the projects were implemented,” she added.

    Valte justified the allocation of multi-billion profits of Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) to the DAP after The Manila Times columnist, former ambassador Rigoberto Tiglao, said in his column that President Aquino “hijacked” P12.3 billion from GOCCs.

    These were from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., Development Bank of the Philippines, and the Land Bank.

    Valte said the President is authorized by the Constitution and by law to use “unprogrammed funds” as savings.

    Unprogrammed funds are standby appropriations authorized by Congress in the annual General Appropriations ACT which may be used only “when the revenue collections exceed the original revenue targets,” she explained.

    ”If you’re looking for the law, then the legal basis is the provision on unprogrammed funds found in the General Appropriations Act,” Valte said.

    Under Republic Act 10147, the special provisions of the unprogrammed funds “shall be released only when the revenue collections exceed the original revenue targets submitted by the President of the Philippines to Congress pursuant to Sec. 22, Art. VII of the Constitution, including savings generated from programmed appropriations for the year: Provided, That collections arising from sources not considered in the aforesaid original revenue targets may be used to cover releases from appropriations in this Fund: Provided, Further, That in case of newly approved loans for foreign-assisted projects, the existence of a perfected loan agreement for the purpose shall be sufficient basis for the issuance of a SARO covering the loan proceeds.”

    According to the Budget and Management (DBM), funds used for programs and projects identified through DAP were sourced from government savings, the realignment of which was subject to approval by the President.

    DAP may also come from windfall revenue collections, dividends from government-owned and controlled corporations as well as from proceeds of sale of government assets.

    The DBM said that under Section 25 (5), Article 6 of the Constitution, the President, the Senate president, the Speaker, the chief justice and the heads of constitutional commissions may be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their offices from savings in other items of their budgets.

    It said savings may also be used to cover any deficiency in peso counterpart funding for foreign-assisted projects, as may be approved by the President, as well as “priority activities” that enhance the economy, such as food production, agrarian reform, and energy development.

    ”Except as otherwise provided in the General Appropriations Act and whenever in his judgment the public interest so requires, the President, upon notice to the head of office concerned, is authorized to suspend or otherwise stop further expenditure of funds allotted for any agency, or any other expenditure authorized in the General Appropriations Act, except for personal services appropriations used for permanent officials and employees,” the DBM said.

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    9 Comments

    1. The money given to 6 senators according to Mrs. Valte is to stimulate the economy. What is she talking about? That money should have been invested in gun production somewhere in Cebu so jobs can be created.

    2. they have no idea on how to stimulate an economy. Let people apply for jobs without all this crap of barangay clearance, police clearance, medicals. What is that all about, yes its all about making people give money to people in power, not for the economy but to line their pockets. Then another way to help stimulate the economy make it easier for small businesses , for instance stop charging a fee every year to register that busisness. Its again just another way of lining their own pockets. You need people to work so make it easier & STOP charging them for wanting to work.

    3. This mess is getting bigger by the minute. PDAF & DAP are not investments per se but an expensive tax reallocation for our politicians with no moral imperative. It’s crappy.

    4. Ingram Gonzales on

      Only veteran lawyer constitutionalist may check and confirm the correctness of Ms. Valtes’ explanation about GAA and laws concerning it. COA is an agency like DBM and under the President, its findings must be brought out so that people may scrutinized it. The FIB should be approved by both chamber at the end of this year.

    5. joebert banderas on

      Ang mga politiko ay ibinoto ng mga tao na kapwa pilipino sila rin ang no.1 na nagpapahirap sa mga bomoboto na kapwa pilipino dahil sa corruption, kasama na rin ang mga govt officials natin sa nagpapahirap sa atin na mga corrupt din.Dapat magkakaroon na ng batas na death penalty para sa mga corrupt para matakot sila wala namang taong hindi matakot bibitayin.

    6. Seems to me a complete and entirely new system of fund recovery, fund retention and disbursement-allocations must be made, and I believe this will occur sooner or later…most likely “later”, as the systems in the Philippines take years to formulate, just as the justice system runs like molasses trying to stream uphill. The DBM should retain its name, but this department needs an overhaul, more than a 1953 Chevrolet Bel-Aire coupe with over 900,000 kilometers on it would need one. Or best idea yet, just to get a new system entirely. Check that constitution before anything is done – as a “homework assignment”, you know, and proceed from there, because there has to be intertwined laws and other edicts these politician’s created, that “loopholes” the systematics of laws, constitutional amendments, and verbiage enough, nothing but utter confusion has set-in. In an open perspective, all the trouble in the Philippines surrounds financial matters, money, and financial disbursements made to all politico’s and their underlings, for self-enrichment. Sure would be nice if corruption did not predominate the country, otherwise if the country absolutely needed something like military defense matériel such as ships, planes, personnel, weapons, and other important items, they would certainly have the funds to appropriate to those needs and requirements without having to lend-lease, borrow or be beholding to any country for the money.

    7. The problem actually boils down to the legal basis of DAP funds release and the concrete activities completed under the projects spent for thru those funds. It is of popular suspicion that project costing gets bloated while activities are reported finished but actually half-thru and way below standards. People suffer in the long term.

    8. “Stimulate the economy” my foot. This is the usual excuse by the administration spokespersons when they are caught in a bind and making excuses for the admin allies. Truth is, these Senatongs and amounts are only peanuts considering all Pork distributed by PNoy. Me thinks the “stimulus” is once again grease money to legislators to tow the line of PNoy, no less.

      • Pitong Daspalas on

        Each of the above comments are laudable, however, each perspective to curb the institutionalized Filipino culture of thievery is tantamount to wrapping a decayed tooth with veneer for aesthetics purposes. On a certain level, I believe Aquino tried to pluck the “bad apples,” (hence GMA) but finds himself powerless to buck and change the culture, realizing ALL of them are rotten. Unless we’ll the courage to root out ALL of them now, we will be blogging the same topic 100 years from now.