THE Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on Monday admitted it received funds under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and used a portion of it to develop complementary baby food.
DOST Secretary Mario Montejo said that the money used for the baby food program came from the DAP funds endorsed by Senators Panfilo Lacson and Pia Cayetano in 2011 amounting to P40 million.
Montejo said the fund was given to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) for the development of a “complementary baby food” as part of the country’s effort to fight malnutrition.
The baby food—which includes rice-mongo instant blend, rice-soy instant blend, and rice-mongo-sesame blend—was introduced by the DOST in March 2011 and distributed to provinces where malnutrition is prevalent among children aged six months to two years old.
Montejo explained that the complementary baby food is not a feeding program but a field testing to determine if it could address malnutrition before the government fully implements it.
The DOST also used the DAP funds endorsed by Cayetano for the “Rock It Science Bus,” a mobile laboratory used by students.
Based on records from the Department of Budget, P137.3 billion has been released from the DAP as of October 2013.
Aside from baby food and science bus, the DOST also used most of the DAP allocation for setting up Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazard) as part of the government’s disaster mitigation efforts.
At least P1 billion was allocated for the procurement of disaster risk reduction equipment, such as early warning devices and sensors under Project NOAH.
Montejo explained that there was a need to accelerate procurement after the country was hit by typhoon Sendong in 2011.
Meanwhile, the DBM withdrew P718.752 million from the Department of Transportation and Communications’ P1 billion fund for the rehabilitation of the Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR) airport in Tacloban.
A reliable source was able to obtain a two-page letter by DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya addressed to Leyte First District Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez saying “the available fund for the project has reduced to P281.274-million.”
“An amount of P1 billion was released to DOTC in 2012. However, in line with the Disbursement Acceleration Program of the government, the amount of P718.752 million was withdrawn by the Department of Budget and Management thus reducing our available funds for the project to P281.274 million. Of the remaining amount, a total of about P181 million has been obligated to cover the airside works that are currently under implementation,” Abaya said in the letter dated September 20.
Abaya added that the project may be referred back to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for the approval of project cost increase, considering its price levels.