THE Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on Wednesday admitted having erred in saying that Senator Pia Cayetano and former senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson released part of the Development Acceleration Program (DAP) to the agency.
DOST Secretary Mario Montejo earlier said part of the DAP funds from Lacson and Cayetano were channeled to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) and was used in the government’s malnutrition reduction program.
The agency said that Cayetano’s P10 million DAP contribution funded the development of baby food, one of the projects of the FNRI to fight malnutrition among children.
Cayetano and Lacson denied having endorsed the release of DAP funds for the DOST.
Lacson said he couldn’t have released any allocation because he did not even avail of his
annual Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel when he was a senator. Cayetano, for her part, said she was not aware of the existence of DAP or its mechanics. She added that she expressed support to the projects of the DOST but she did not release any DAP funding for the FNRI program.
“Although both senators have expressed their support for the program, neither of them had sought budgetary support to fund the program through the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP. The DBM, acting on our request for additional funding for the program, released funds to the DOST-FNRI totaling P40 million through the DAP mechanism in December 2011,” it said in a statement.
“We assure the public that the funds are all documented and accounted for and are being used in our efforts to curb malnutrition in the country through science and technology. We hope this clears up the matter and we express our sincere apologies to Senator Pia Cayetano and former Senator Lacson for the confusion that may have resulted from our earlier statements,” it added.
Meanwhile, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad on Wednesday said that DAP was a temporary program of the executive branch and it will stop once government spending is fully accelerated.
At the Poverty Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center, Abad said that the DAP is only for the acceleration of public spending to raise economic performance, which started in 2011 when the gross domestic product was at a low 3.6 percent.
“It will really stop eventually because the DAP is for disbursement acceleration. In our first term in government, expenditure and spending boost was needed. GDP growth went down to 3.6 percent in 2011, and because we pushed the [DAP] spending program, the GDP went up to 6.8 percent,” Abad said in Filipino, referring to the rise of GDP from 3.6 percent in 2011 to 6.8 percent in 2012.
“Even World Bank and credit rating agencies recognized the increased government spending. If it comes to a point that we don’t need disbursement acceleration and that spending is already accelerated, we would not need DAP anymore],” he added.