Joker to DBM: Explain use of P127-B DAP
'Budget dictatorship' slammed
MANILA - Former senator Joker Arroyo wants Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to make public the utilization of Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds, estimated to have reached over P127 billion from 2011 to 2012.
“Nobody knows how the DAP funds, amounting to P72 billion in 2011 and P55 billion in 2012, were spent. They should explain before they file cases against so many people,” Arroyo told radio dzBB yesterday.
He challenged Abad to explain how the multibillion-peso funds were used in the last three years instead of hiding behind a 24-year-old administrative code as legal cover.
“The government keeps on filing cases but they should first look at themselves in the mirror. Do they even have a list of where the DAP funds went?” Arroyo said.
He slammed the defense of administration allies that the DAP is legal, citing an administrative code passed during the term of President Aquino’s late mother, former President Corazon Aquino.
Arroyo, who was executive secretary during Mrs. Aquino’s regime, noted that the administrative order was not used when she was president from 1987 to 1992.
Neither was it used during the terms of her successors, former Presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“Twenty-four years later after four presidents who did not use it, they use this as cover? What are the guidelines? What are the standards? They cannot say anything,” Arroyo said.
Arroyo, who finished his last term as senator last June, lamented what he called a “budgetary dictatorship” under the present administration where “they may spend (government money) at will.”
Arroyo said President Aquino’s popularity in survey ratings “does not give him license to commit any offense.”
“I want Noynoy to succeed for himself, and more importantly, for the sake of the country which is now beset by many problems and the filing of cases here and there. But this DAP issue should not be covered up by the filing of such cases. This cannot be,” Arroyo said.
Although the executive department has announced that the DAP will no longer be allocated for lawmakers, Arroyo said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) led by Abad cannot just arbitrarily use the funds and divert the savings somewhere else.
Asked to react on reports that the DAP funds will be used for the rehabilitation of war-stricken Zamboanga City, which was seized by Moro rebels in recent weeks, Arroyo said the DBM has no authority to do so.
“Whoever gave them the power to switch? That is not allowed unless there is a law that supports that,” he said. “The law says no money shall be paid out of treasury without congressional approval, otherwise we are in a dictatorship.”
He also called President Aquino’s leadership style “fascist,” where anyone who protests will be slapped with fabricated complaints.
“Meaning, this government cannot make a mistake,” Arroyo said. “They do not even have feelings.”
The way the administration will handle funds from DAP hereon would be a test case of its sincerity on how it must deal with lump sum appropriations, he said.
Arroyo batted anew for the abolition of both the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of lawmakers and the DAP.
“The practice should be stopped. Even PDAF should be abolished, and then now you have this DAP, it is worse because there is no law to back it up. You cannot even annul it because it was not created by law,” Arroyo said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago believes Abad can be held criminally liable for malversation of public funds or plunder for the alleged misuse of DAP funds.
“Along the principle of presidential immunity, it is the secretary who has to assume criminal liability because you cannot sue the president criminally until his term is over,” Santiago told dzBB also yesterday.
She described the DAP as a creation of “criminal minds.”
The funds were tapped as alleged incentives for the 20 senator-judges who voted for the impeachment of former chief justice Renato Corona last year.
Santiago said the “brains” behind the DAP did not foresee that these disbursements of government savings – either impounded by the DBM or returned by agencies at yearend – would be uncovered during their terms.
“You can see the criminal minds of the people who thought of creating the DAP. They think that this is okay for as long as it is kept secret and confidential. The problem now is that this was uncovered,” Santiago said.
Opposition Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who himself is embroiled in the alleged misuse of his PDAF from 2007 to 2009, exposed the release of P50 million in DAP funds for 20 senator-judges.
Santiago cautioned the public against using the demonstrations against the abuse of pork barrel funds as a means to remove President Aquino from power.
She said there are those who protest against the abuse of the funds, but there are also those who want to use this opportunity to place themselves in power.
“Filipinos do not like illegal or unconstitutional mode of regime change. We prefer to wait for the elections. So the power of these demonstrations will be diluted once these are used in politics,” Santiago said.