Palace ready to defend DAP before SC
MANILA - Malacañang on Friday said it is ready to defend the Disbursement Acceleration Program (SC) after its legality was questioned before the Supreme Court.
In a 26-page petition before the High Court, former councilor and losing senatorial bet Grego Belgica said the DAP funds released to lawmakers violated Section 25, Article 6 of the Constitution, which prohibits any transfer of appropriations from the Executive branch to the Legislative branch.
He said the DAP is another prime example of how the President is given unbridled discretion in deciding how the Malampaya funds and presidential social funds are disbursed.
In a press briefing, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte maintained DAP is not a form of pork barrel.
"I've spoken with the Solicitor General, the office has not yet received any copy of the position but rest assured that the Solicitor General will be ready to defend the position of the Executive. We are confident that we can ably defend the position on the creation as well as the use of the Executive of the DAP," she said.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada first revealed the DAP after saying that he got an additional P50 million in funds after he voted to convict Chief Justice Renato Corona in his Senate impeachment trial.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad later said the P50 million came from the DAP, which was established to ramp up government spending after sluggish disbursements caused the country's GDP growth to slow down to just 3.6% in 2011.
Former Senator Joker Arroyo and Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago have both called for the scrapping of the DAP, saying that no law authorized its creation.
Meanwhile, Malacañan seems unfazed that there are threats of impeachment against President Aquino over the DAP.
"In any decision or in any program that the President approves or any policy that he adheres to, he is always ready to defend his position in any venue," he said.
Valte, however, said that over time, disbursements from the DAP will lessen and eventually stop.
"I understand that the amount that will fall under the mechanism has considerably been less from the amount that we started with. We started with something around 82-point something billion. It went down to 54 billion. 52 billion, something like that. I'm sure you guys have the figures," she said.
"It will be lower at least for 2013, given that we've already approved---sorry, improved the absorptive capacity of the agencies and their projects. That is the idea because… The idea really is to be able to assist the---well one, to help pick up public spending; and second to help the agencies improve their absorptive capacities. So, if you see the trend that's been happening, the funds that are involved, the amounts that are involved keep going down kasi natututo na po 'yung mga ahensiya na gastusin nang maganda 'yung kanilang mga pondo at magalawan nang maayos and on time 'yung kanilang mga proyekto."
Valte said Malacañang is holding on to its discretionary lump sums despite the ongoing Million People March in Makati City against all forms of pork barrel.
She said the Palace has sufficiently answered and explained the necessity for what others call "presidential pork."
"We have also been consistent that the use of some of most of the SPFs or the Special Purpose Funds under the control of the government have been aboveboard, have been transparent and necessary for the execution of the mandate of the Executive," she said.
Valte said the Palace has no problem with citizens who take to various fora to express their grievances.
"We understand kung bakit po merong outrage. Talagang lahat...We all share in the passion and the anger because of revelations that the pork barrel has been misused," she said.
Valte says for today's rally, police have deployed additional personnel.