Based on reports from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is a mixed basket of clear, concrete projects given relatively smaller funding that were bundled with vague, insubstantial activities and programs allotted lump-sum billion-peso funding.
The latter set of activities cornered nearly half of all DAP funds, allowing for variably low to no guarantees of impact, transparency and accountability.
Abad and Aquino have explained that through DAP, the government wanted to give priority funding to high-impact, fast-moving and socially responsive projects, in order to shore up public spending and boost economic growth.
But the lump-sum funds tucked under DAP that went to projects supposedly requested by still unnamed legislators and local officials seemed to have worked like the much-maligned PDAF that the Supreme Court had declared in October 2013 to be unconstitutional.
In DAP’s case, the apparent haste that marked the release of DAP funds apparently left little room for the typically tedious process of doing project feasibility studies, program of work or even disclosure of project specifications that are among the hallmarks of open and transparent budget planning and execution that, ironically, DBM under Abad had championed since 2011.
Yet still, DBM had defended DAP to be “a fiscal stimulus measure” and “a package of reform interventions to address the inefficiencies and leakages in government spending and to stimulate economic growth.”
The “fiscal stimulus measure” soon evolved into “a pool of funds” that, Abad has said, supported “proposed additional projects that have been chosen given their multiplier impact on economy and infrastructure development, their beneficial effect on the poor and their translation into disbursements.”
The DBM list of DAP-funded projects featured, too, not actual projects but broad activities or programs (i.e. LGU Support Fund, Various Infrastructure Projects, projects for “capacity development”) that drew much bigger lump-sum funds.
These lump-sum amounts represent at least a fourth of total DAP funds released by DBM across a 26-month period.
The PCIJ’s review of DBM’s DAP projects list reveals that at least P35.54 billion of the total P144.37 billion DAP monies were spent on various local projects, details of which are not all fully disclosed.
The P35.54 billion excludes as yet the P6.49-billion support fund provided to local government units to supposedly cushion the impact of the 4.8-percent decrease in the 2012 IRA.
Half of the lump-sum amount or P17.31 billion went to projects “requested by legislators, local government officials and national agencies” that DBM is yet to itemize.
In total, “legislators, local government officials and national agencies” were assigned 12 percent of DAP projects, the second largest portion of DAP total funds. Abad earlier said only nine percent of DAP projects were identified by lawmakers.
The largest, single DAP allotment that was released in two tranches was the P30-billion equity infusion in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). The New Central Bank Act of 1993 mandated a P50-billion recapita–lization for the BSP.
DBM said since 1996, national government has not allotted P40 billion of the amount. Through its DAP funding, DBM said, BSP will “expand its rediscounting facility and help stimulate economic activity by enhancing the delivery of credit to productive sectors of the economy, including micro, small and medium enterprises.”
The balance of P17.95 billion that went to lump-sums under DAP went to more lumped local projects through the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan Program (Pamana), Comprehensive Peace and Development Intervention for ARMM, various projects through government corporations and development assistance to the province of Quezon.
Projects related to housing and resettlement of informal settlers, as well as roads, bridges and flood control, took P11.07 billion and P16.3 billion, respectively.
Steady flow for LGUs, solons
DBM made sure that projects “requested by legislators, local government officials and national agencies” secured a steady flow of DAP funds. In at least several tranches of DAP releases, these unspecified projects got DAP monies:
P6.49 billion for “Other various local projects” that “shall fund priority local projects nationwide requested by legislators, local government officials and national agencies.” This item was approved under the first tranche of DAP or “DAP 1” on October 12, 2011.
• P1.88 billion for “GOCCs: Other various local projects” that “shall fund priority development projects nationwide in the areas of municipal ports, FMR (farm-to-market roads), local roads and bridges, livelihood, nutrition development, and electrification through certain government-owned and -controlled corporations.” This item was approved under “DAP2” on December 21, 2011.
• P8.06 billion for “Other various infrastructure projects” that “shall fund other priority local projects nationwide requested by legislators, local government officials and national agencies.” This item was approved under “DAP 3” on June 27, 2012.
• P2.76 billion for “Other various local projects” that “shall fund other priority local projects nationwide requested by legislators, local government officials and national agencies.” This item was approved under “DAP 5” on December 21, 2012.
• P4.45 billion for “GOCCs/DPWH/LGUs: Priority Local Projects Nationwide” that “shall fund priority projects nationwide, including recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation projects due to calamities.” This item was approved under “DAP 6” on June 14, 2013.
• P6.49 billion in “LGU Support Fund” that DBM said was “pursuant to the President’s directives, the amount will help local governments cushion the impact of the 4.8-percent decrease in the 2012 IRA [Internal Revenue Allotment] over the 2011 levels due to abrupt decreases in national internal revenue collection in 2009.” This item was approved under DAP 1 on October 12, 2011. With reporting and research by Karol Ilagan, Rowena F. Caronan and Fernando Cabigao Jr.