On July 25, 2014, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad promised to give the Senate Committee on Finance a list of impounded funds per government agency pooled for the Disbursement Acceleration Program, and the status of the projects or programs where DAP funds were used.
More than a month has elapsed and Abad still has to submit the needed data. He provided in a jiffy data on the pork used by three senators for several years so why is he taking time giving the info on more recent activities? There’s only one possible reason for this– full disclosure will give the lie to the administration’s claim that the DAP had been beneficial to the people.
Come to think of it, why isn’t the finance committee chair, Sen. Chiz Escudero breathing hard on Abad to come out with the promised data? Sure, there is a political dictum that “the friend of my friend is my friend” but this shouldn’t stand in the way of an honest-to-goodness inquiry in aid of legislation. Right off the bat, the Senate inquiry on the DAP was already called a “zarzuela” meant to get President BS Aquino and Abad off the hook after the Supreme Court had declared portions of it unconstitutional.
What’s known so far is that P237.7 billion had been impounded from “slow-moving” projects funded by the national budget. The pooled amount was then classified as “savings,” placed under DAP and used by the Aquino administration even for projects not contained in the national budget as well as for projects outside the domain of the executive department.
Abad contended that the DAP was a spending reform measure for speeding up public expenditure to catalyze economic growth and benefit the people.
“Because we implemented DAP without pomp and circumstance, most of the public are unaware that some of the services we’ve been delivering were made possible by DAP,” Abad said at the Senate hearing.
The public might share the same sentiment if they were informed on what were the “slow-moving projects” that were the source of the DAP and how the ordinary people were benefited. I wonder if the untold story about the DAP would show that the people would have benefited more had the original projects not been suspended or cancelled.
The claim of the Aquino administration that it wants projects to move faster rather than keep public funds lying idle is proved false by the fact that of the P237.7 billion impounded from the budget, the proposed projects needed only P167.6 billion, of which only P144 billion was released. I thought the administration doesn’t want funds to stay idle but that’s what has happened to the more than P93 billion that remains of the DAP.
The men of Malacañang may be slow in informing the people on the nuts and bolts of the DAP but expect them to move with the speed of light in dumping the three impeachment complaints against BS Aquino. Don’t be fooled by the decision of the House Committee on Justice declaring the complaints sufficient in form. Expect the committee to throw out the complaints next week “for insufficiency in substance.” Volcanoes will erupt in Malacañang if the committee prolongs the debates on this issue.
I heard Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the House Committee on Justice, say on the 9TV (formerly Solar News TV) program “news:PH” hosted by veteran broadcaster Pia Hontiveros that his being an ally and party mate of the President won’t affect his treatment of the impeachment complaints. Yeah, just like this alliance didn’t affect his approval in record time of the voluminous impeachment complaint against former Chief Justice Renato Corona!
Incidentally, several points of order were raised at the committee hearing on the impeachment complaints’ sufficiency in form. Veteran parliamentarians know that to be declared out of order is a supreme humiliation to self-respecting lawmakers. I had never heard parliamentarians like Senators Nene Pimentel, Kit Tatad, Bert Romulo, Tito Sotto and Kiko Pangilinan and Congressmen Ronaldo Zamora, Simeon Datumanong, the late Sonny Escudero, Rodolfo Albano and Manuel “Nonoy” Garcia move to declare any of their colleagues out of order.
Speaking of Rudy Albano of Isabela and Nonoy Garcia of Davao City, I remember that during the Regular Batasan, they used to be sent by Majority Leader Jose Rono to talk with the minority. The opposition leaders, among them Nene Pimentel, Monching Mitra, Louie Villafuerte and Bono Adaza couldn’t get along with the No. 2 man of the rules committee, Arturo Pacificador of Antique. However, they found bosom buddies Rudy and Nonoy more reasonable and more diplomatic. No wonder Rudy and Nonoy were warmly welcomed to the new majority in the post-EDSA legislature.