UNA blames Budget dept., House leaders
THE United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) on Wednesday accused the current administration of covering up the “crime scene” on the alleged misuse of the presidential funds released through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Rep. Tobias “Toby” Tiangco of Navotas, UNA secretary general, said leaders of the House of Representatives and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) continue to refuse to release the list of lawmakers who have received DAP funds.
“Where is the master list of Congress and DBM? If they don’t want to present it because it may incriminate them, then, we can say that the Administration is adopting a no-gun-no-murder defense to cover the DAP crime scene,” Tiangco said.
He criticized Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad for coming up with alibis instead of disclosing the names of lawmakers who helped themselves to the DAP funds.
“The first excuse of Secretary Abad is that it was on a Sunday when he was asked about the list so the records were not available, while the Speaker said he could not recall it anymore. I’m wondering what would be their next alibi,” Tiangco said.
Tiangco reiterated his challenge to Abad to fully disclose the list of projects and their corresponding implementing agencies where DAP funds were used, in the spirit of transparency, accountability and fairness.
He added that Belmonte’s refusal to disclose the names of the recipients is unfair to other lawmakers who, like him, did not receive allocations from the DAP.
Tiangco said he could not understand why Belmonte would not comment on who among the congressmen received DAP funds even if, in fact, all Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) are released by the Speaker’s Office.
He explained that congressmen do not get their SAROs directly from the budget department. It is issued by the DBM through the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“Bakit nga ba nila kailangang itago ang masterlist? Takot ba silang makita kung sino ang nakinabang sa DAP at magkano ang napunta kanino? [Why, may I ask, do they need to hide the masterlist? Are they afraid to show who benefited from the DAP and how much was released to whom?]” he asked.
Belmonte has said Abad has the sole discretion in releasing the funds.
Tiangco earlier said Abad should also be held accountable for the release of public funds to questionable non-government organizations (NGOs). He said the budget chief is as guilty as the lawmakers who poured the money into fake NGOs.
However, Malacañang came to Abad’s defense, saying the Budget chief should not be blamed for the release of funds through the controversial disbursement program to groups linked to alleged fund scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said Tiangco was barking up the wrong tree.
“Well, obviously, we don’t agree with Congressman Tiangco because as far as I can remember in this particular issue, it was the senators who identified [the beneficiaries],” Valte told reporters.
Valte said the lawmakers identified where the funds should go and they also requested the transfer of the money from the Agrarian Reform department to the government owned and controlled corporation.
“They [lawmakers]were the ones who requested that the agency in the beginning, if I’m not mistaken, it was supposed to be DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform], and then transferred to the NLDC,” she said, referring to the National Livelihood Development Corp.
Valte added “there are documents to that effect.”
As a GOCC, the NLDC actively pursues a package of livelihood and enterprise development programs and interventions to hasten socio-economic growth in the countryside especially in the hard-to-reach agrarian reform communities (ARC).
The NLDC serves sectors at the bottom rung of the economic ladder by making financing available to them and also by engaging them in capability-building programs, according to the agency’s website.
Valte emphasized that Abad was not the one who identified the agencies “where the funds should go and which [agency]should execute the program.”
Tiangco earlier said Abad had a hand in all DAP releases because of his position as Budget secretary.
“We all know that there were fake NGOs that benefited from the DAP. The other question here is, who facilitated the special funds coming from DAP? Eh sino ba ang namumuno ng [who heads the]DBM?” he asked.
But Abad said he questioned why the funds were channeled to DAR when the DBM had just approved the release of funds for the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Service.