Lacson: ‘Aquino’s DAP reincarnated in 2015 Budget’

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Remember President Aquino’s blatant hijacking of the budget in 2012 to 2013, masked as the Disbursement Acceleration Plan (DAP)?

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It raised the hundreds of millions of pesos in pork barrel-like funds, which, with the regular pork barrel money,  “convinced” the 20 senators to remove from office Chief Justice Renato Corona on the flimsy ground of his incomplete SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth). It also rechanneled funds to finance such Aquino whims as the P2-billion road projects for his home province of Tarlac and the P9 billion to bribe officials of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao to support his BBL fantasy.

 Lacson (right) with Aquino, back in those days when they still believed in each other.

Lacson (right) with Aquino, back in those days when they still believed in each other.

As the fund allocations deviated from those specified in the General Appropriations Acts for 2012 and 2013, the accounting got so messy that P8 to P21 billion to this day couldn’t be accounted for. Abad also had sloppy days when he released P29 billion for projects which Aquino had disapproved in his marginal notes to the budget secretary’s request. (See my column, August 17, 2014, “P29B or 20% of DAP projects solely on Abad’s say-so”)

The Supreme Court quite expectedly ruled it unconstitutional in July 2014, and if our nation had been a more rational one, Aquino would have been toppled and jailed for such a blatant usurpation of Congress’ sole power to determine how taxpayers’ money should be used.

It is an indication of this Administration’s hubris, or its arrogance that it can ride roughshod over Congress, that it has, in effect, inserted provisions in the 2015 Budget that would allow it to replicate the DAP’s hijacking of the budget.

“After the PDAF, we also discovered the obvious reincarnation of the DAP,” Senator Panfilo Lacson, who is (or was) President Aquino’s ally claimed in a speech July 13 at an assembly of the Philippine Institute of Public Accountants.

By “PDAF” (which stood for the old-style pork barrel, called the Priority Development Assistance Fund), Lacson referred to P424 billion in “lump-sum” funds (or those with no specifics) in the 2015 Budget, which he exposed as de facto pork barrel funds that could be released at President Aquino’s or his budget secretary Florencio Abad’s whim.  (See my column July 14, “Aquino stunned, livid over Lacson’s P424-B hidden pork accusations.”)

The DAP funds were raised between 2012 and 2014 through the infamous National Budget Circular 541 of July 18, 2012, which out of the blue declared that funds allocated by the budget laws that had not been used by the middle of the year, were to be classified as “savings” and assigned by Aquino and his budget secretary to other projects or programs – most of which were not even mentioned by the budget laws.

The Supreme Court, of course, in July 2014 saw it as merely an ingenious way of not following the budget laws, and declared it unconstitutional. It affirmed its decision in February 2015 and even indicated that administration officials responsible for the DAP should be prosecuted.

Lacson explained that the DAP’s “reincarnation is contained in Sections 70 and 73 in the General Provisions” section of the 2015 General Appropriations Act.

Indeed, Section 70 had, among its several definitions of “savings,” budget allocations for projects and programs that are “not commenced” by the agency “not because of its fault.”

That definition is an entirely new one. It wasn’t in the previous General Appropriations Acts, which defined “savings” in its ordinary usage as “left-over” funds, or those that remain for various reasons after a project or program is implemented.  In previous budget laws, budgets for projects or programs that are not implemented (not “commenced”) are simply not released.

That new definition would allow Aquino’s officials to undertake a host of actions so that the agency cannot “commence” its project or program.   That would allow Aquino – as he did in the case of the DAP scheme – to use (“realign”) that allocation for any other project or program at his whim, which was what the DAP was.  It would essentially be the “DAP” again, with the advantage that no over-arching program is announced, therefore, concealing it from the public.

What Lacson did not point out is that the 2015 budget law has one significant feature, which was started only last year.

In all previous budget laws, the appropriations could be used only for that particular fiscal year (which is also the calendar year). Section 61 of the 2015 GAA, though, provides that the MOOE (Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses) and capital outlays authorized in the 2015 Budget may be available “for a period extending to one fiscal year after the end of the year in which such items were appropriated.”

That means that the appropriations authorized for this year can be used even next year – not coincidentally when national elections are undertaken in May. For example, the Department of Interior and Local Government Department could just delay its P4 billion allocation for urban-poor housing this year, and for impact, undertake it in the months before the May elections. (The ban that starts April is only for infrastructure projects.)

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11 Comments

  1. Exposing wrongdoing and being able to do something about it are 2 very different things in the Philippines.

    The Justice Dept sec De Lima and the Ombudsman Morales will not charge anyone without Aquino’s permission even tho they are supposed to be independent offices. The sad truth is those offices have been corrupted by President Aquino.

  2. Bakit hindi dalhin sa supreme court ang issue at ipawalang bisa ang 2015 GAA? Ito ay upang mademanda sa ombudsman at ordinary courts with various cases ang mga gumawa ng 2015 proposed budget, GAB at GAA.

  3. Panapanahon lang yan, does this mean that charges will be brought out against Pinoy?! Who is going to jail next? Is this the “Daang Matuwid” ……..”KARMA is a Bitch”!!!

  4. Amnata Pundit on

    Will someone please explain why, if this Abnoy vs Binay is not a moro-moro, there is a secret pork barrel fund amounting to P200M for the office of the vice-president in this years budget as exposed by Senator Lacson?

  5. Leodegardo Pruna on

    This time, it is hocus PoCOS that would happen in preparation for 2016. A BAD man in the company of his boss and cohorts are at it again. God bless the Philippines.

  6. Wala ng ginawa ang lintek na ABNOY na yan kundi paglaruan ang budget para saa kanyang paghihiganti.Palibhasa tamad,manhid,palpak.Puro daldal,manisi at manigarilyo.Mahilig pang mag-credit grabbing ang hinayupak.

    • Samuel Santos on

      Gawin lang nang gawin ni PNoy ang lahat ng gusto nya para sa ganoon ay dumami at higit na tumibay ang mga ebidensya para sa mga kasong maaring iharap sa kanya pagbaba nya sa kapangyarihan.

  7. P.Akialamiro on

    It seems that this administration’s way of persuation is by ‘corruption’; corrupting the unscrupulous goverrnment officials, as shown in the past. Since this budget discussed here, as bared by former Sen. Lacson, is ‘anomalous’ and ‘illegal’; a case should be filed in the Supreme Court, at the proper time, to have it declared unconstitutional. The executive department is either stubborn or just trying to take advantage of the ‘corrupt’ and ‘inutil’ congress. Lest we may be losing democratic government.

  8. It’s the elite and the yellow group who always tried and always succeeded to bring down a legitimately elected president. He is one of them so don’t expect anything.