THE Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) was used to channel funds to buy politicians’ “loyalty” to the administration, according to militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr.
Reyes noted that besides Liberal Party (LP) members in Congress, local government executives who are close to President Benigno Aquino 3rd were also the “topnotchers” in DAP disbursements.
“It is undeniable. DAP was used as pork for lawmakers and local government officials. It was a favor for political allies. It was dangled before politicians to ensure loyalty to the administration. As such, it stinks of corruption,” he said.
The list of legislators whose districts got the biggest DAP funds was led by former Cavite Rep. and now Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya. According to Reyes, Abaya supposedly endorsed P408 million in projects under the controversial program.
“He [Abaya] was after all the chairman of the House appropriations committee at the time DAP was conceived in 2011. Abaya was tasked with ensuring the passage of the Aquino budget in Congress. He may have colluded with [Budget Secretary Florencio] Abad in ensuring that budget items were bloated, thereby ensuring a source of illegal ‘savings’ that ended up as presidential pork,” the Bayan leader said.
But Malacanang on Wednesday immediately belied the accusation, saying Department of Budget and Management (DBM) records would show that Abaya was not the “topnotcher” in DAP releases.
“Jun Abaya does not have the highest [DAP] among the congressmen based on DBM numbers,” Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told The Manila Times.
Still, Reyes said, Aquino and Abad should be held accountable “for lying to the public about the Disbursement Acceleration Program, in saying that DAP was not like PDAF or congressional pork.”
“The fact that huge chunks of DAP went to lawmakers and their pet projects shows without doubt that DAP was used as pork. That most of the big recipients of DAP were administration allies prove that DAP was indeed presidential pork,” he pointed out.
“It is also not surprising that the wife of Budget Secretary Abad, Rep. Henedina Abad, was a DAP topnotcher herself, getting as much as P176 million in projects. It was Secretary Abad who was in a position to recommend DAP projects. This alone shows us what is truly wrong with DAP and pork. Public funds should not be treated as a joint savings account by these officials,” Reyes said.
Local Government Units (LGUs) that are “close to the President’s heart” also got huge funds from the program, among them Mayor Carmen Petilla and Governor Jericho Petilla. The LGUs under the two officials got P237 million and P118 million, respectively.
Reyes cited a computation by the Computer Professionals Union that came up with the tally. Besides the Petillas, Pampanga Mayor Oscar Rodriguez. also of LP, got P134 million while Gov. Victor Tanco got at least P87 million in projects, followed by Gov. Oscar Moreno, who got P81.5 million in projects.
“At least P2.2 billion in DAP was coursed through local government units,” Reyes said, quoting the CPU tally.
Other LGU officials included in the CPU list of those who were recipients of DAP funds are Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, P80 million; Gov. Arthur Defensor, P79 million; Mayor Darlene Antonino Custodio, P73.5; Gov. Raul Daza, P70 million; Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, P55 million; Mayor Evenly Uy, P54 million; and Pangasinan Mayor Hernani Braganza, P52 million.
Reyes said a full and complete accounting of DAP projects is still necessary.
“Huge items such as the P1.3 billion supposed agrarian reform community projects have not been detailed by the DBM. The P1.8 billion DAP for the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process also has not been fully detailed by the DBM. Some P240 million for so-called civil society participation has not been reported by the recipient agency, according to the DBM. These are just some of the many DAP-funded projects and programs that have not been accounted for, further highlighting the corruption of the Aquino government,” he explained.
But a list released by Rep. Tobias Tiangco of Navotas City (Metro Manila) showed that lawmakers who are not members of LP also got DAP funds.
They include former House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez of Lakas-CMD who received P70 million, Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao of Isabela from the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), who received P10 million, Rep. Rolando Andaya of Camarines, P55 million, and Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro, P47 million.
Rep. Rex Gatchalian of Valenzuela City (Metro Manila) received P44 million when he was still mayor of the city.
Deputy Speaker Roberto Puno of Antipolo City, who hails from the National Union Party, was given P42 million.
Party-list representatives also got their DAP share—Reps. Sherwin Tugna of Citizens Battle Against Corruption (P35 million), Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list (P10 million) Rodante Marcoleta of Alagad party-list (P29 million), Carol Lopez of You Against Corruption and Agapito Guanlao of Butil party-list (P3 million).