Why is Budget Secretary Florencio Abad holding out on the request of the Senate Finance Committee for copies of the Special Allotment Release Orders (SARO) made through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)?
The question surfaced after The Manila Times learned that the Senate committee has not received the copies of the release orders covering DAP projects that were requested by some of its members from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) during its hearing last July 24.
A source in the Senate told The Times that a staff of the Senate finance panel tried to follow up the request with the DBM two weeks after the hearing, but the department did refused to provide the SARO copies.
The source said the DBM did not give any reason for denying the request.
At the hearing, Sen. Grace Poe asked for the SAROs the Budget department released for the province of Quezon, listed under item number 42 on the DBM list of identified projects.
Poe learned that P750 million from DAP was given to Quezon province. Instead of funding development projects, the amount was used to settle the tax liabilities of the National Power Corp. (Napocor).
Abad, who was at the hearing, promised to provide the Senate panel copies of the documents.
In an interview Friday, Poe said she tried to follow up her request to Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the finance committee, who relayed the request to the DBM.
She said the DBM informed Escudero that the SAROs have been posted on the DBM website, but when she checked the site Poe found that the Budget department only posted figures related to the subject SAROs and not the actual SAROs she requested.
Poe, through her staff, also asked the secretary of the Senate Finance committee Isabelita Robles if copies of the SAROs have already been submitted to them by the DBM but the committee secretary told them that their office has not received the same.
In a letter dated August 6, Poe reminded Abad of her request.
Poe said in order not to add to the heavy workload of the DBM, she limited her request to the release orders for Quezon that only involves three SAROs.
“If the DBM still can’t provide us the actual copies of these SAROs, it is obvious that something is wrong,” Poe said in an interview.
Aside from the copies of the DAP SAROs for Quezon, Abad also promised to provide Senate finance committee copies of all SAROs related to DAP as well as the list of agencies where the government sourced the fund the program.
The panel has yet to receive the documents.