THE latest list released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showing funds coursed through the defunct Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) only bolstered critics’ allegation that such funds were used as “extra pork barrel” funds for lawmakers.
Besides being “incomplete,” the list that was first made public by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on Wednesday evening was “sanitized,” according to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr.
The list identified 19 incumbent senators as endorsers of projects under the program, including Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who were previously not mentioned in the initial list presented by Abad.
The 139-page DAP list also includes the names of Antonio Trillanes 4th, Ramon Revilla Jr., Loren Legarda, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Alan Peter Cayetano, Ralph Recto, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd, Vicente “Tito” Sotto 3rd, Teofisto Guingona 3rd, Sergio Osmeña 3rd, Juan Ponce Enrile, Franklin Drilon, Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, Francis Escudero, Pia Cayetano, Juan Edgardo Angara (then Aurora congressman); and Lito Lapid.
Also, four former senators were also named by the DBM as having nominated DAP projects–Manuel Villar, Francis Pangilinan, Edgardo Angara and Joker Arroyo.
In an interview with The Manila Times on Thursday, Reyes said the latest DAP list has many loopholes and that it only raised more questions than answers.
“The funds allotted to various local projects have not been properly reported. [President Benigno] Aquino [3rd’s] claim that DAP [funds are] unlike PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Funds] is completely demolished by the fact that DAP [funds were]used as extra pork for lawmakers,” the Bayan leader added.
By clearly showing that the funds were identified by lawmakers in the same fashion that the PDAF funds were earmarked for various projects, Reyes said it cannot be proven that DAP money was not abused.
The PDAF was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last year, along with other forms of pork barrel funds.
“The claim that projects did not end up in corruption also falls flat on its face as a full accounting is yet to be made,” Reyes said.
“We will press DBM and Malacanang to release the complete list,” he added.
The DBM announced that the list of legislator-nominated projects funded from savings and supported through the DAP includes information on the projects and their respective endorsers in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The DAP was launched by the Aquino administration in 2011 to ramp up public spending and boost the country’s economic growth.
“Although combing through all the projects took some time, we believed that the fidelity of our data could not be compromised in favor of speed. We now urge the Filipino people to scrutinize the list carefully. In this manner, the Aquino administration will be better-positioned to heed the citizens’ call for increased transparency, accountability and openness in public expenditure,” Abad said.
In July this year, the SC ruled that some aspects of the DAP and its implementation were unconstitutional.
Abad explained that while the DAP played a significant role in the country’s economic development, it also created a direct and positive impact on communities on the ground, primarily through socio-economic initiatives.
“DAP allowed us to direct funds toward the DepEd [Department of Education] for the construction of school buildings, as well as for the implementation of the Alternative Learning System. These investments in our long-term public education goals will allow us to build a citizenry that is better-educated and primed for employment,” he said.
In response to critics’ claims, meanwhile, Malacanang deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte also said on Thursday that it was wrong to cast doubts on the new DAP list which, she claimed, detailed all the information regarding its use.
“The updated list has the identifying project proponents [and]special allotment release order numbers for each project and the date of issuance, including the project descriptions and actual project output. Those who are interested may scrutinize the list,” she added.
A lawyer, the Palace official challenged critics to prove their allegation that the list was “sanitized,” saying “the burden is on them to prove that it is sanitized.”
“Let us not stop at motherhood statements. Let us go down and drill with data that would support your assumption that it is sanitized,” Valte said.
Also, according to her, it would not be correct to assume that funds went through the hands of proponents because none did. Valte said it will be up to the lawmakers to explain the details surrounding their endorsement of the DAP-funded projects.
“It would be their call.,” she pointed out.