The list of Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) projects released by Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Butch Abad is one big cover-up to belatedly legitimize the Aquino administration’s illegal and unconstitutional juggling of public funds.
This is the first time Abad has released the so-called “complete” list of DAP projects. We recall that during the oral arguments before the Supreme Court (SC), Abad only submitted seven evidence packets containing only 12 DAP projects and 15 applications of the DAP, with their corresponding Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) and appropriation covers.
Had Abad submitted this complete list, the High Court might have issued an even stronger ruling striking down this Palace-concocted budget.
What is certain, however, is that the list further bolsters the SC’s decision that the DAP violated the constitutional prohibition against the transfer of appropriated funds as well as the legal restriction on funding projects not covered by the budget law.
One such project is the “Activities for Peace Process under the PAMANA Program” under the Office of the President (OP)–Office of the Presidential Adviser (OPAPP) on the Peace Process. The PAMANA (or “Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan”) is the Aquino administration’s purported peace and development program to undertake peace-building, rehabilitation and reconstruction initiatives in conflict-affected areas such as MILF communities in Mindanao.
Under the 2011 General Appropriations Act (RA 10147), Congress only allocated to OPAPP, including its requirements for the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP)–Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) activities, the sum of P235.88-million. Of this amount, P40.28-million was allotted for personnel services, P183.13-million for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and P12.5-million for capital outlays.
Although the PAMANA program was never specifically included in the budget law approved by Congress, it appears that its funding ballooned by almost 800 percent to P1.819-billion under the DAP. Not coincidentally, the funds were released soon after PNoy’s one-on-one meeting with MILF chief Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo, Japan aimed at jumpstarting the stalled peace talks between the government and the MNLF breakaway rebel group.
Curiously, Abad still cannot identify where he sourced OPAPP’s additional P1.6 billion pesos from, even though it has been almost three years since he released the funds. And Abad apparently still has nothing to show for this billion-peso expenditure since his list does not indicate any actual output for the PAMANA program.
There are other multi-billion peso DAP expenditures on Abad’s list which do not reveal the details or the actual output of the project, particularly in cases where the proponents are lawmakers.
For instance, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was given P2.76 billion for the so-called “Various Infrastructure including Local Projects” (VILP) of legislators. Abad’s list, however, does not say where and what these projects are.
That these infrastructure-cum-local projects were not described in detail and were all listed as VILPs clearly show that these items are, in reality, pork barrel funds of legislators, which were embedded or “inserted” in the DAP.
Perhaps that also explains why some lawmakers got more than others.
Within five months after being sworn in as the 12th winning senator in the 2007 elections, Aquilino Pimentel, a known Palace ally, received five SAROs totaling P90 million. Another Palace ally, Senator Allan Peter Cayetano, got P43.5 million.
Senator Antonio Trillanes received 36 SAROs totaling P73.31 million, all in the span of a day, while Liberal Party stalwart and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte received a single SARO worth P95.1 million.
It’s obvious from Abad’s list that lawmakers’ PDAF were denominated as a DPWH infrastructure projects – or as “livelihood/financial assistance programs” – in order to give it a semblance of legitimacy and to mask (or cover up) its true nature as a lump-sum, discretionary fund which legislators can practically spend as they please.
So the question in many people’s minds now is: How and where did these lucky lawmakers spend their pork barrel? Did these funds end up in “bogus” non-government organizations (NGOs), too?
Not surprisingly, Abad refuses to verify how the projects were implemented, leaving it instead to legislators to “validate” the information on his list.
Meanwhile, other PNoy allies are stonewalling further investigation into the lawmakers’ PDAF.
Blue Ribbon Committee Chair TG Guingona prematurely ended the hearings on the pork scam after coming up with a committee report recommending the filing of plunder charges against three of his Senate colleagues. This even if he had not yet investigated the 64 other NGO-conduits implicated in the Commission on Audit (COA) report, which allegedly got P4-billion – or twice the amount received by Napoles NGOs.
COA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan, on the other hand, refuses to release the audit reports on the PDAF from 2010 to the present, even though these had been available since May.
How’s that for transparency and accountability?!