Deliberations on the proposed P2.606-trillion budget for 2015 should not be held hostage by moves to stop them over the allegedly incomplete list of lawmakers whose proposed projects were funded by the outlawed Dis-bursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd of Mandaluyong City (Metro Manila) made the appeal on Tuesday after Rep. Tobias Tiangco of Navotas City (Metro Manila) made a motion to defer proceedings around 3:30 p.m. on Monday, just a few minutes after the House of Representatives finally resumed its session with enough lawmakers on the plenary floor.
Gonzales disputed Tiangco’s claims that the DAP list is incomplete, saying the information that Tiangco is looking for, including those DAP projects pro-posed by Gonzales, has been reported out in the media, the first by the Philip-pine Center for Investigative Journalism.
“The Supreme Court did not declare the use of savings as illegal. It only set requirements on when it should be used. We should not hold the budget hostage because it is very important to approve the budget on time,” Gonzales told reporters.
DAP is a spending program wherein unused appropriations of agencies were realigned by the executive to the priority programs of the Aquino administration.
The Supreme Court ruled against it because it usurped Congress’ sole power to appropriate, noting that savings can only be tapped at the end of the year.
Gonzales argued that Tiangco cannot continually fault lawmakers for proposing projects that were funded by the DAP because they only identify their pet projects and submit them to the Department of Budget and Management for funding and it is the DBM that identifies the source of funding.
“. . . In fact, the SARO does not indicate if the project is funded by the DAP. It merely states that the fund is under the General Appropriations Act of 2011…or 2012 for that matter,” he said, referring to the Special Allotment Release Order, which indicates that the lawmakers’ proposed projects are already funded.
Still, Gonzales conceded that Tiangco is not the only one to blame in protracted budget deliberations because it takes Congress up to around 3 p.m. to constitute a simple majority attendance on the plenary floor.
The budget deliberations are supposed to start at 10 a.m., but absences have dragged resumption of debates to as late as 3:30 p.m.
From 3:30 p.m. on Monday to 2 a.m. on Tuesday, the House was able to finish discussions on the budgets of state universities and colleges, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Energy and Energy Regulatory Commission.