ZAMBOANGA CITY: Five governors of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Thursday expressed their support to President Benigno Aquino 3rd whose controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Showing their unity and loyalty to Aquino were Sulu Gov. Totoh Tan, Tawi-Tawi Gov. Nurbert Sahali, Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar, Lanao del Sur Gov. Bombit Adiong, Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and Sulu Vice Gov. Sakur Tan and former Tawi-Tawi Gov. Sadikul Sahali.
The impoverished ARMM is one of the beneficiaries of Aquino’s anti-poverty program and infrastructure projects that largely benefited poor families in the five provinces. At least P8.6 billion from the more than P160 billion DAP went to the ARMM to fund various projects and programs.
Aquino approved the DAP in 2011 on the recommendation of the Development Budget Coordination Committee and the Cabinet Clusters as a “stimulus package” by the government for the projects. From 2011 to 2012, DAP funding reached P142.23 billion—P83.53 billion in 2011 and P58.70 billion in 2012—and most of the funds went to healthcare, public works, housing and resettlement, agriculture, tourism, road infrastructure, school infrastructure, rehabilitation and extension of light rail transit systems, and electrification project in the villages.
Last year, P15.13 billion in DAP funds were also released by Budget Secretary Butch Abad and these went to the police and redevelopment of the Roxas Boulevard in Manila and other rehabilitation projects in areas affected by typhoons.
Aquino said the DAP funds came from the savings of various government agencies and is legal, citing Article VI Section 25 (5) ng 1987 Constitution. “. . . the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of Constitutional Commissions may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations.”
And Book VI Chapter 5 Section 39 of the 1987 Administrative Code: “Except as otherwise provided in the General Appropriations Act, any savings in the regular appropriations authorized in the General Appropriations Act for programs and projects of any department, office or agency, may, with the approval of the President, be used to cover a deficit in any other item of the regular appropriations. . .”
“If there is a singular legacy that I am leaving and sana, masanay ang kababayan natin na ito ang kaya ng gobyernong pinapatakbo nang matino,” Aquino said.
The five ARMM governors also issued a statement supporting the government’s peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Aquino’s reform program last year.