True to his word, former Iloilo congressman Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco has started running after the Aquino administration.
Syjuco, who was the first to turn in his certificate of candidacy for President, on Friday filed a five-page complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman against President Benigno Aquino 3rd, Senate President Franklin Drilon and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad over the disbursement of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which is infamously known as “pork barrel,” and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Syjuco, chief of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) during the Arroyo regime, earlier said the inefficiency of the Aquino administration was a factor in his decision to run for President in next year’s elections.
“[President Aquino’s announcement that he will abolish the pork barrel funds wasn’t entirely true,” he said.
The former lawmaker mentioned that the Commission on Audit (COA) recently set off a series of annual audit reports (AARs) on government agencies on how pork barrel funds were spent during the first half of the Aquino administration.
“In the said reports, it was revealed that about a dozen public agencies, directly under the authority of the President, served as conduits for ‘pork,’ otherwise known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and such other lump-sum funds from 2011 to 2013 in committing continuous abuses and misuses of ‘pork,’” Syjuco said.
“In addition, these COA agency reports noted that despite explicit advisory from the Supreme Court to stop these disbursements of PDAF by September 2013, still multibillion pesos of ‘pork’ monies were still released, while fund balances for projects not yet covered by Notices of Cash Allocation (NCA) were not reverted to the Treasury, by a number of ‘pork’ conduit agencies and legislators,” he added.
The Supreme Court (SC) declared PDAF, also known as the pork barrel fund allocation of lawmakers, unconstitutional in November 2013.
Meanwhile, DAP, a stimulus package under the Aquino administration that aimed to fast-track public spending and push economic growth, was declared unconstitutional by the SC in July 2014.
Syjuco alleged that the public was misled to believe that Aquino’s daang matuwid (straight path) means “the prudent use of state funds for projects.”
“Both PDAF and DAP are allocated, approved and implemented under the ‘unwatchful’ eyes of the President,” he alleged further on in the complaint.
A total of P62.5 billion in PDAF was released during the first three years of the Aquino administration from 2010 to 2013, based on the complaint.
“[T]hereby more than doubling it by 240 percent from the total amount of PDAF from 2007-2009 of the previous administration, which was only P26.1 billion,” Syjuco said.
From 2011 to 2013, Aquino disbursed DAP funds totaling P157 billion based on the complaint.
“In sum, just during the last six (6) years of the Aquino administration, his pork barrel PDAF amounted to P220 billion, plus what is only partly known of their DAP that amounted to at least P157 billion, the combined total of which appears to be a whopping and mind-boggling P377 billion!” it stated.
The Department of Budget and Management once said in its website that the President released P157 billion while DBM chief Abad placed the amount at P144 billion in his memorandum in December 2013 recommending termination of the DAP program, according to Syjuco.
“There has been no comprehensive auditing of these DAP funds. Nor has there been a termination of the DAP program. Your guess of total funds misspent is as good as mine. Suffice it to say that this is at least P144 billion!” the complainant said.
“With the final Supreme Court decision identifying the ‘backroom conspirators’ of the DAP as the ones liable, appropriate cases should have been filed long ago with the proper courts. Though now much overdue, let these be filed now in accordance with the precepts of law!” Syjuco added.
He further alleged, “Since BS Aquino, and he alone, directed the use of the PDAF and the DAP [funds], it can be well said BS Aquino used these funds as his own personal treasury.
Undeniably, one one fact is so obviously certain. Whether he pleads insanity or otherwise, BS Aquino’s hands are tainted with pork barrel money.”
Last September 30, the Office of the Ombudsman said that its Field Investigation Office (FIO) completed its fact-finding probe of the use of the DAP funds from 2011 to 2012.
Abad and Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos are facing preliminary investigation before the office for technical malversation and administrative charges in connection with the release of P393.7 million in DAP funds.
The field investigators, however, dismissed the complaint against Aquino because the allegations did not amount to an impeachable offense.
“The FIO also recommended that the issue on the utilization of funds to the DAP projects in the executive department be referred to the COA for special audit,” the office said.
Relampagos is facing graft charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the pork barrel scam.