Palace officials should stop trying to justify the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)—the presidential pork barrel concocted by PNoy and Budget Secretary Butch Abad. The more they do, the more they’re being caught in a lie.
For instance, in the recent Supreme Court ruling declaring the DAP as unconstitutional, the High Court wryly observed that Malacañang wasn’t entirely truthful when it claimed that all 116 PAPs (project, activity, program) funded by DAP had the corresponding “appropriation covers” in the General Appropriation Act (GAA) or budget law.
The Supreme Court said: “Upon careful review of the documents contained in the seven evidence packets, we conclude that the ‘savings’ pooled under the DAP were allocated to PAPs that were not covered by any appropriations in the pertinent GAAs.”
In other words, the DAP was funding items which were not even included in the budget law, in violation of the constitutional requirement that “no money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.”
One of these irregular PAPs is the P1.6-billion Disaster Risk, Exposure, Assessment and Mitigation (DREAM) project under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
“Aside from this transfer under the DAP to the DREAM project exceeding by almost 300% the appropriation by Congress…the Executive allotted funds for personnel services and capital outlays. The Executive thereby substituted its will to that of Congress. Worse, the Executive had not earlier proposed any amount for personnel services and capital outlays in the in the…2011 GAA,” the High Court chidingly remarked.
The High Court also discovered other disbursement anomalies such as Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) being issued to the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEETRD) for the “establishment of the advanced failure analysis laboratory,” which did not correspond to the program listed in the GAA.
But Malacañang’s dishonesty doesn’t end there.
In order to justify the Palace’s use of the so-called “unprogrammed funds” for DAP, “the [Office of the Solicitor General] assured the [Supreme Court] that the revenue collections exceeded the original revenue targets for fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013,” Justice Antonio Carpio noted in his absorbing separate opinion.
Under the budget law, unprogrammed funds can be used only if the revenue collections exceed the original revenue targets as certified by the Bureau of Treasury (BTR).
However, when the High Court required Malacañang to submit the corresponding certification from the BTR, what the Palace submitted instead were certifications from the BTR and the Department of Finance (DOF) that dividend collections from the shares of stock held by the Government in government-owned and controlled corporations exceeded the yearly target (or programmed) dividends.
This prompted Justice Carpio to complain that “(t)he certifications do not state that the revenue collections exceeded the original revenue targets as submitted by the President to Congress.”
The distortions foisted by the Palace aren’t surprising since even the brains behind the DAP can’t seem to get his story straight.
In his letter to PNoy last December 23, 2013, Abad said the government shelled out almost P141 billion for DAP-funded projects from 2011 to 2013. This conflicts with the figures published earlier in the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)’s website, which said that the total funds approved for DAP in the same period stood at more than P157 billion—some P142 billion pesos from 2011 to 2012, and more than P15 billion in 2013.
A more recent DBM press release, meanwhile, mentioned another figure: more than P136 billion from 2011 to 2012. Ano ba talaga, Kuya?!
One thing’s for sure though. Most (if not all) of the DAP numbers being thrown at us are definitely false and untrue.
Apparently clueless that he’s digging a deeper hole for his “boss”, even the Presidential mouthpiece, Edwin Lacierda, has been trying to put positive spin to the DAP.
“Ninety-one percent” of DAP funds had been spent properly by the executive branch,” Lacierda declared.
But isn’t that also an admission that Malacañang improperly (and unlawfully) spent the remaining nine percent of DAP funds—the estimated P12.8 billion given to senators as “incentive” during the Corona impeachment trial?
Lacierda also insists that the DAP benefited the country. But how can Lacierda vouch for DAP’s supposed benefits when Malacañang can’t even say where the funds went? Either Lacierda is talking through his hat or he’s not being candid when he claimed they still didn’t have a copy of the DAP-funded projects more than 6 months after the controversy hit the front pages.
Last Friday, PNoy rejected Abad’s resignation explaining that accepting the DBM secretary’s resignation was “tantamount to acknowledging wrongdoing on my end.”
We’re not surprised. No self-righteous person would do such a thing, right?
[Opinion Section Editor’s note: At 6 p.m. yesterday, President Aquino addressed the nation on TV about the the DAP. He claimed that the money was used to benefit the people, said that the justices’ decision was in error and that he had heard that some of them were making this issue a personal quarrel with him, and announced that he would petition the High Court to review and change its decision. Nothing that the President said contradicts or clarifies any of the points made in this article by Columnist Dulay.]