The seeds of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) were sown as early as the first five months of the Aquino presidency, the leader of a militant group said, citing two memos from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The DBM issued the memos on October 12, 2011 and December 12, 2011, barely five months after Aquino assumed office.
Copies of the memos, submitted by Malacañang to the Supreme Court, were obtained by the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and emailed on Sunday to The Manila Times by Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes.
The documents show that the President declared as “savings” some P21.544 billion in unreleased appropriations for “slow-moving projects and programs for discontinuance.”
Aquino also authorized the DBM to use these funds for “priority projects.”
A further P12.336 billion from the 2010 unprogrammed funds would be added to what would become the DAP in October 2011.
Also added to the DAP funds were P30 billion in unreleased personal services appropriations for 2011, and P482 million in unreleased appropriations for “slow moving” and discontinued projects for 2011. An additional P7.7 billion for realignment within agencies was included in the funds under the control of the President.
“By October 2011, Aquino had wide discretion over P72.1 billion in DAP funds, which he could appropriate for projects not found in the national budget and for augmentation of the special purpose funds like PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund of lawmakers].
“The administration’s use of the P12.336 billion unprogrammed funds from 2010 would be a violation of the law based on the SC ruling. Same goes for the so-called P21.544 billion ‘savings’ from 2010,” Reyes said.
No official from the DBM could be reached for comment over the weekend.
A reason to create DAP
“Looking back, it is possible that it was the Aquino government that caused the conditions of underspending as early as 2010 by not releasing appropriations, letting the problem persist till 2011, so they will have a reason for introducing a stimulus program called DAP,” Reyes said.
The program would “address the underspending they themselves created. By this time, huge funds would already be centralized under the President,” he added.
The administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd would then be guilty of bad faith, he said.
Reyes noted that in its ruling declaring parts of the DAP as unconstitutional, the Supreme Court said obligated funds for slow moving projects, and projects not up for final discontinuance, cannot be declared savings because “savings can only be generated if the projects have been completed or if the projects are finally discontinued or abandoned.”
The High Court also said unprogrammed funds cannot be used in the absence of a legally required certification by the national treasurer that the revenue collections for the period exceeded the “total of the revenue targets.”
“The two memos will show that the President and DBM Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad set out to violate the Constitution through [the government’s]declaration of savings and realignment of funds not found in the General Appropriations Act,” Reyes said.
One memo states that the “savings” were intended to “provide for new activities which have not been anticipated during the preparation of the budget” and to “provide for deficiencies under the Special Purpose Funds, e.g. PDAF, Calamity Fund and Contingent Fund.” Projects approved for this period included the controversial PDAF augmentation for various local projects amounting to P6.5 billion as well as the P6.5 billion LGU support fund.
Reyes said the documents submitted by the DBM to the Supreme Court will be important pieces of evidence in the impeachment complaint that Bayan is planning to file against the President.