Lawmaker pins blame on Abad
BUDGET Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad should also be held liable for the release of funds under the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), some of which were spent on ghost projects, according to Navotas Rep. Tobias “Toby” Tiangco.
Tiangco said Abad is as guilty as the lawmakers whose DAP allocations ended up in bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) of Janet Lim-Napoles.
“Abad is equally guilty, whether he acted as Budget secretary, a conduit or an agent.
Why was he asking the DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform] to accommodate releases to beneficiaries who now turned out to be fake NGOs? And when DAR did not agree because they still had P1 billion, the funds were transferred to NLDC with his consent,” Tiangco, who is also the secretary general of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said, referring to the National Livelihood Development Corporation.
He said Abad cannot deny that the DAP funds poured into Napoles’s fake NGOS were released with his consent.
He cited a news report, which claimed that Agrarian Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes admitted that Abad asked him “to accommodate the release of the funds for the senators whose beneficiaries turned out to be fake foundations used by Napoles.”
The NLDC also confirmed getting the same request from the DBM.
Tiangco said Abad had a hand in all DAP releases because of his position as budget secretary.
“We all know that there were fake NGOs that benefited from the DAP. The other question here is ‘who facilitated the special funds coming from DAP?’ Eh sino ba ang namumuno ng [who heads the]DBM?” he asked.
Tiangco added that only Abad and Malacañang were aware of the DAP, and the Budget secretary has the sole discretion in releasing the funds.
“If Abad is the one who pushes for the DAP [fund releases]to the implementing agencies, he should be held liable for the transactions made by the agencies with the fake NGOs,” he said.
Tiangco assailed Abad’s remarks that DAP allocations were released irrespective of the lawmakers’ stand on the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“For the record and to correct Secretary Abad’s selective memory, I have not received any single centavo from the DAP. I have not received any single centavo over and above the P70-million PDAF allocated at that time per congressional district,” he said.
The lawmaker dared Abad to make a full public report on all DAP releases.
“I have openly been asking Secretary Abad since August last year, for the sake of transparency to bring out the list of all DAP spending. It’s been six months, but up to now they don’t want to bring out the list. So obviously they are hiding something,” Tiangco said.
For his part, the Budget chief belied Tiangco’s allegations that he is equally guilty for releasing DAP funds to bogus NGOs, saying the lawmaker’s assertion was erroneous.
In a text message to The Manila Times, Abad said it was in fact he who questioned why the funds were being channeled to DAR when the DBM had just approved the release of funds for the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Service (ARCCESS).
“Please read the correction of Secretary [Virgilio] de los Reyes. Mali si Tiangco, [Tiangco is wrong],” Abad said.
He e-mailed the Times a copy of the DAR chief’s clarification on news reports that were attributed to him, saying the Budget chief gave the imprimatur to release DAP funds that found their way to Napoles’ fake NGOs.
In his statement, de los Reyes categorically denied that Abad asked him to accommodate the requests of several senators for the release of their funds from the DAP.
The DAR chief said that contrary to what was reported, Abad raised the red flag on the release of the funds.
Because of Abad’s query, DAR insisted that regardless of the source of funds, the release of funds should go through the regular processes.
“I have always insisted that all the funds that pass through our office should follow the regular processes and be subject to evaluation and bidding. That is why, I suppose, they were taken out of DAR and transferred to another agency,” de los Reyes explained.
Tiangco also said it is possible that Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is covering up for his colleagues who received DAP funds.
He challenged the House leader to come out with a list of congressmen who were given DAP allocations.
“So for Speaker Belmonte, for the integrity of the House, sana naman ‘yung lahat ng DAP na nagdaan dito ay ilabas na nila ‘yung listahan, kung kani-kanino napunta ‘yun, [we hope they come up with a list of all the DAP funds that have been released to those concerned],” Tiangco told reporters.
“Ano ba namang masama kung ilabas ni Speaker Belmonte ‘yung lahat ng DAP na dumaan dito sa HoR. Para magkaalaman na. Ang pinaka-importante dito ay transparency eh. Kung wala kang tinatago, ipakita mo lahat, [What’s wrong with such a list that shows all the DAP funds that passed through the Representatives? What’s important is transparency. If you’re not hiding anything, show everything],” Tiangco emphasized.
Belmonte however said the issue should be raised with Abad.
“Better ask the DBM,” the House leader said.
“As far as I am concerned, the Executive generates savings and as long as the money is spent within the Executive for legitimate projects helping people, okay lamang ‘yun, [that’s okay]” he added.
Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr. of Cavite, one of the prosecutors in the impeachment trial of Corona, also denied having received P10-million DAP funds which include P7 million for farm-to-market roads and P3 million for soft projects as a reward for Corona’s conviction.
It was previously reported that senators and congressmen got DAP funds before, during and after Corona’s trial.