DAP illegal – Miriam, Joker
The Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is illegal.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago and former Sen. Joker Arroyo said this yesterday, saying DAP is illegal since it was a creation of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), hence its expenditures were illegal like the fruit of a poison tree.
“The budget department should have sought the approval of Congress because under the Constitution it is Congress that exercises the power of the purse,” Santiago said.
“The DAP is unconstitutional, even criminal as there is no law that created it,” Arroyo said in an interview with radio DZRH.
No Law Created DAP
“The PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) can be removed, modified. But you can’t stop DAP because there is no law that created it,” Arroyo added.
DAP came to fore after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, in a privileged speech, revealed that senators who voted to convict then Chief Justice Renato C. Corona were given P50 million each months after the trial.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad later confirmed the P50 million given to senators but clarified that the release of the funds was part of the government’s spending program and not an incentive to senators who voted to convict Corona.
But Santiago and Arroyo said the release of P1.12 billion in DAP by the DBM was illegal.
Dropping by the Senate building after leaving the Upper House after a two six-year consecutive terms, Arroyo stated that he wants President Benigno S. Aquino III “to succeed for his own sake but more importantly for the country’s sake.”
“The President is faced with so many problems. You have the China problem, you have the Mindanao problem, you have the Napoles, now we have the DAP problem, and so many others. Those cannot be solved overnight. The idea is to help. The problem is this – that student council in Malacañang, instead of helping the President, perpetuates a system where they promote quarrelling and conflict. Anyone who disagrees with the government, they are considered as non-conformist,” Arroyo said.
Of all the senator-judges in the Senate impeachment court, only Arroyo, Santiago, and Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. voted to acquit Corona of the charges leveled against him by the House of Representatives.
P500M Released To Senators During Corona Trial
During the press forum, Arroyo disclosed that Malacañang released P500 million from PDAF to 11 senators during the impeachment trial of Corona and the supposed P1.12-billion DAP after the trial.
“DAP is a can of worms,” Arroyo said.
Queried whether the President knew about the alleged bribery by the DBM on senators since Abad is his alter ego, Arroyo simply said he could not read the mind of the Chief Executive.
Santiago also said that President Aquino should seize this rare opportunity to permanently fix the flawed budget system.
DAP Legal – Palace
Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte asserted that the DAP, approved by the President in 2011 to increase government spending and boost economic growth, has firm legal basis.
Valte, speaking to reporters in the Palace, said the realignment of government savings for programs aimed at pump-priming the economy is backed by the Constitution and the Administrative Code.
Article VI, Section 25 (subparagraph 5) of the Constitution reads “the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of Constitutional Commissions may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations.”
Chapter 5, Book IV of the Administrative Code, on the other hand, states the authority to use savings in appropriations to cover deficits as well as for certain purposes, including promoting the economic well-being of the nation.
“We obviously do not agree that that mechanism known as DAP does not have any legal basis,” Valte said about speculations Aquino may have violated the Constitution over the use of the DAP.
“DAP is not a fund source. It is a program that identified fast-moving projects that funded by savings,” she added.
DAP Violates Constitution
But Santiago said DAP violates the constitutional provision that, “No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; however, the President … may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations.”
Santiago said that the Constitution allows fund transfers, only if there are savings, meaning that the project was completed, and yet the appropriation was not exhausted; but there are no savings if a project was merely deferred.
The senator said it appears that DAP funds were taken from alleged slow-moving projects. If so, no savings were generated, and therefore the DAP is illegal.
“The first issue is that the DAP was not taken from savings. The second issue is that the DAP was not used to augment items in the budget that were previously authorized by Congress. The alleged savings were used to augment new budget items not previously authorized by Congress,” she said.
Nothing Irregular – Palace
But Presidential Communications Development Secretary Ramon Carandang insisted there was no irregular disbursement of the DAP, compared to the controversy surrounding the use of PDAF.
“This is a diversionary tactic meant to throw the attention again at the Palace when the real question is who are facing charges, who are alleged to have misused their discretionary funds,” Carandang said in an interview.
COA To Probe DAP
The Commission on Audit, responding to the request of Santiago, yesterday said an audit will be conducted on expenditures involving the controversial fund released that Malacanang distributed to lawmakers who played active roles in the impeachment trial.
“In response to the letter request of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, I am now looking into the releases under the DAP to legislators, and the projects for which their DAP allocations were spent,” said COA Chairman Ma. Gracia Pulido Tan.
Santiago also said that in 2011, President Aquino reacted to criticisms that his administration did not implement government programs fast enough. As a response, President Aquino authorized the DBM to set aside P85.5 billion for the DAP, without getting prior congressional approval.
“The budget secretary released a list of the beneficiaries of the DAP. The variance of the beneficiaries – lumping together P10 billion to the National Housing Authority, with P50 million for every senator in 2012 – indicates that the DAP is nothing more or less than the huge pork barrel of the President, spent without the participation of the Congress,” she said. (With reports from Genalyn D. Kabiling, Ellson A. Quismorio, and Ben R. Rosario)