His resignation bid may have been rejected by the President, but Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad still has a lot of explaining to do regarding the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The Senate, through the committee on finance, has directed Abad to submit a complete list of all the Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) that were disbursed under the DAP. It said the list should include the names of the projects, their purpose and the amount of the releases.
Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the finance committee, said Abad was summoned to appear at the chamber next week. He added that the Budget chief should clarify reports that P372 billion was released under the controversial disbursement program, which was far bigger than the P200 billion figure earlier provided by the Budget department to the committee.
“This is the reason why the Budget department needs to explain and clarify the DAP and hopefully put the issue aside in order not to delay the 2015 budget deliberation,” Escudero said in an interview over radio dzBB on Sunday.
The committee hearing, to be held on July 21, is the continuation of proceedings that were suspended out of courtesy to the Supreme Court when it was deliberating on several petitions challenging the legality of the DAP.
Escudero advised Abad not to dodge the inquiry because the Budget chief can always be grilled when the Senate starts deliberations on the 2015 proposed national budget.
His advice came after he heard reports that Abad will only attend the committee hearing if President Benigno Aquino 3rd allows him.
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) also warned Malacañang not to use excuses or come up with a policy similar to former President Gloria Arroyo’s Executive Order (EO) 464, which prevented members of the Cabinet, police and military generals and other government officials from attending congressional hearings.
UNA Secretary General Tobias Tiangco urged Aquino to stop defending the DAP and instead move on so that he can focus on his job rather than waste time justifying “unconstitutional acts of his minions.”
“Secretary Abad is saying he has to get clearance from the President before going to the Senate—wow, it is like EO 464,” Tiangco said.
“The burden that [the President]carries all the time is that he keeps on defending his men. But now, it has reached a point where he is protecting a Constitution offender and in effect he is also violating the law,” he added.
Tiangco said it is puzzling why the President and his allies in the Liberal Party (LP) are wasting time defending the disbursement program when it has already been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Instead of defending the DAP, he added, the President should use the remaining two years of his term improving the lives of the people and achieving an inclusive and equitable economic growth by 2016.