Palace defends allies who 'asked' for DAP
MANILA -- Malacanang does not see anything wrong with the actions of six allies in the Senate who have requested for an additional P100 million on top of their regular P200-million pork barrel.
“At least at face value, you could see that [the senators] identified projects that fell under the implementing agencies. There were also local governments [where they gave the funds]. In fact, there was no mention of non-government organizations,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported on Sunday that Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Ralph Recto, Antonio Trillanes IV, Teofisto Guingona III, Sergio Osmeña III and now retired Sen. Francis Pangilinan each requested P100 million for “priority projects” in 2011.
The six separately wrote then Senate Finance Committee chairman Franklin Drilon of these requests. All six said they were working on a “tight deadline” in implementing the priority projects.
The same report quoted Drilon as saying there was nothing wrong in asking senators to identify the projects for funding, which would later be tagged as those coming from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
He said he does not remember asking them, however.
Nonetheless, Drilon said: “It is not unusual that senators would be asked to submit projects to be funded out of unspent appropriations so that our public spending program is met.”
Valte also came to the six senators’ defense, saying, “This was in November of 2011 when we were trying to catch up with spending and, in fact, we were open for proposals from the national government agencies. We were also open to proposals from the different bureaus and as well as the legislators. And they were allowed to identify a certain portion as long—provided that it would fall under the requirements for the mechanism.”
She said to look at the context for using the funds. She stressed, nonetheless, that the Commission on Audit is already probing into the DAP.
The legality of the DAP has been questioned following revelations by Senator Jinggoy Estrada that the funds were used as incentive for senators who voted to oust Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad said the funds were given to senators to bolster the economy, which was then being affected by poor infrastructure growth. He said even former Senator Joker Arroyo, who voted for an acquittal, received DAP funds
Arroyo insisted, however, that the amount mentioned by Abad was an amendment he made in the budget processing, saying he would not allow the DAP, which he also described as unconstitutional.
Former Senator Ping Lacson and Senator Miriam Santiago also agreed with Arroyo.