Joker on DAP: Criminal, unconstitutional
MANILA - Former senator Joker Arroyo on Tuesday called the government's Disbursement Acceleration Program as both illegal and unconstitutional, saying there is no law that mentions the existence of DAP.
Speaking to ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda, Arroyo challenged Malacañang to explain where the DAP funds are coming from since there is no law that allows the President to give away consolidated savings of government agencies.
"This is a criminal and unconstitutional measure kasi you will see sa budget wala yun. There is no authorization for anyone to appropriate that money and spend it," he told Punto por Punto host Anthony Taberna.
"By what authority did you dispose of that? Ano ba ang provision of law that supports the position? Yung PDAF meron, there is a law. Masama pero there is a law. Yung DAP masama pero walang batas to support it," he added.
Arroyo likened the DAP to a receptacle where all savings of government agencies would be placed so that Malacañang could use the money.
He noted that 11 senators received half a billion pesos worth of projects under the DAP in April 2012.
"Ganito yun, No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of the appropriations made by law. Hindi ito realignment. Ito pinaggagastos pero walang batas to support it. There is no law that supports DAP. You ask any senator kung may batas na supporting the authority of Malacañang to dispose of these amounts. Isipin mo P1 billion just like that? Ano bang mangyayari dito? Not only is it criminal, it is unconstitutional," he said.
Asked if the DAP releases could be considered bribes, he said: "Hindi ko malaman pero pangit. Isipin mo, at the height of the impeachment trial in April 2012 half a billion was released under DAP. Hindi ako magsasabi dahil I wouldn't know anything about it. Hindi ko nga alam ito e. Bahala ang Malacanang diyan."
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad earlier confirmed that over a dozen senators received additional pork barrel funds under the so-called Disbursement Acceleration Program after the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Those who received P100 million each were Enrile, Sen. Franklin Drilon, and Sen. Francis Escudero.
Abad said the additional money was not meant as a bribe or incentive for convicting Corona but was meant to increase spending and help accelerate economic expansion. He said it was not the first time that releases from DAP were made to fund project requests from legislators.
He also noted that P47 million in projects endorsed by Arroyo's office were approved and funded by the DAP.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Monday also presented a letter from Arroyo requesting for P47 million for pet projects in Bicol. Since the senator did not touch his priority development assistance funds, Lacierda said Malacanang funded the projects from the DAP consolidated savings.
Arroyo said he was not informed that the projects he proposed were funded by DAP.
"Wala pa. Alright let me explain that because this is the heart of the question already at the DAP. Sinabi ng Malacañang na dinisapprove yung amendment ko. Wala namang nagsabi sa akin na disapproved. Ngayon, lumabas itong allegation about itong kay Chief Justice Corona. Kinuha sa DAP. Alright, question ano ba itong DAP na ito? No one has heard of this kind of animal before. I have been in the Senate and in Congress for 21 years, wala pa akong narinig na DAP," he said.
Need for stimulus fund
Meanwhile, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the President's use of these savings, a part of which were given to lawmakers on top of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), is allowed by the Constitution.
"Everytime na ginagamit ang savings, may legal basis tayo dyan… Hindi naman tayo kikilos kung wala pong legal basis," Lacierda told dzMM.
Lacierda cited Article 6, Sec 25, Sub-section 5 of the Constitution which states that the President, Senate President, House Speaker, Chief Justice and 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."
He said the DAP releases are also backed by the Administrative Code.
The code states that "any savings in the regular appropriations…may be used to cover a deficit in any other item of the regular appropriations."
Savings in the appropriations may also be used for the settlement of the certain obligations incurred during a current fiscal year or previous fiscal years.
Former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga also said the DAP might have already been operating as early as 2011 but under a different name. He noted that the country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth slowed down to just 3.6% in 2011.
Paderanga said many government agencies had savings in 2011 due to an overhaul in government processes.
The former NEDA chief said the government asked many agencies for projects that could be fast-tracked after government underspending threatened macroeconomic targets.
"Tinanong lahat ng ahensya at least nung 2011 tsaka palagay ko 2012 tinanatanong ko 'Mayroon ba kayong proyekto na pwede na nating ituloy dahil may savings na pwedeng i-realign ng ating Presidente.' Sa palagay ko, yung mga kongresista at senador kabilang na lang yun sa mga tinanong ng proyektong na sabi nga sa Amerika ay 'shovel ready' at pwedeng pag gastusan kaagad," he said.