Cabinet post for Lacson still on the table: Palace
MANILA - Malacanang on Wednesday twitted its own ally, former Senator Panfilo Lacson, over his comments on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) but said there is still a position for Lacson in the Aquino Cabinet.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda rebutted Lacson’s comments that the DAP is another form of pork barrel.
“With due respect to Senator Lacson, the fact he doesn’t know DAP as a term doesn’t negate the fact it existed. It was in 2011, we applied the program, we used realigned savings to accelerate spending. There was one occasion where President attended a FOCAP event and the President mentioned the P72 billion stimulus package. It’s in the news. 2011 pa lang po. 2011 pa lang sinabi na ng [Department of Budget and Management] na may DAP. Siguro di nila alam term na yun. Realigned savings po iyon,” he said.
“DAP existed prior to him learning of DAP. DAP was also a P72 billion stimulus package. Is it Waterloo? I don’t think so. If you look at usage, more than 90% of the DAP was used by implementing agencies and a portion of that Executive branch consulted with lawmakers,” he added.
Lacierda said DAP is within the confines of the Constitution, specifically the power of the president to realign savings. He pointed out that the DAP is not a fund that can be seen in the national budget but a mechanism to accelerate spending.
“It’s not a fund. It’s a mechanism where you accelerate spending. It’s realigned savings. Is it found in the constitution? Yes it is. Sources of the DAP are 4 things: unreleased appropriations of 2010 and 2011; realigned savings of agencies and unprogrammed funds. Those are sources of realigned savings,” he said.
He also explained why the Palace was the first to defend the DAP instead of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
“At that time na lumabas yun, pauwi siya (Abad) mula sa official trip abroad. Nagtetext siya mula sa labas. The minute he came home, he explained the mechanism,” he said.
Asked about Lacson’s future in the Aquino Cabinet despite his criticisms, Lacierda said: “The President mentioned there’s a position for him.”
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares had denounced President Aquino for his continued support of the pork barrel system, particularly the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the DAP.
“Why is the President so enamored with the pork barrel system particularly with the PDAF and the DAP? The Filipino people have been calling for the abolition of this rotten system but President Aquino is still its main defender. Did he gain something from this or the P248.3 million that the Presidential Security Group (PSG) got from the DAP?” said the senior deputy minority leader.
“Pres. Aquino and the DBM’s reasoning using Section 25, Article VI of the Philippine Constitution of the 1987 Constitution is flawed. Even if it does authorize the President, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the heads of the Constitutional Commissions…to augment of an item (in the general appropriations law) for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations, the DAP, which came from DBM Circular 542, is a forced and premature pseudo-saving mechanism done in June 30 of 2012. Savings are ascertained at the end of the year not in the middle. How can President Aquino call mid-year realignment as savings? ” he said.
Colmenares said, based on the national budget, the amount of unused appropriations did not include “budgetary adjustments” moved from one agency or department to another, to the tune of P288.11 billion in 2011. Such adjustments ballooned to P358.41 billion in 2012, the year Abad came out with National Budget Circular No. 541 justifying the DAP.