'DAP must be seen as economic stimulus'
MANILA, Philippines - With the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) still weighed down by bad image, the government said it needs greater effort in explaining the mechanism as savings and economic stimulus.
While lauding the Supreme Court’s decision not to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the DAP, the administration said it acknowledges that a more vigorous approach is needed to convince critics and the public in general that the mechanism is not pork barrel in disguise.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said over radio dzRH that discussions on the matter had branched out and gone out of control despite President Aquino’s having made it clear that the measure introduced two years ago was meant to accelerate spending and boost the economy.
Coloma said on Friday this fact seemed to have been forgotten and various interpretations had been made. He said it was important to promote understanding of the issue by providing focus on communication.
The Palace has been saying that DAP funds are simply savings pooled together and realigned to other programs and projects.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte yesterday said it was fortunate that the SC did not stop the government’s use of DAP.
She said over dzRB that a TRO could affect programs and projects of the administration and that the Office of the Solicitor General was ready to defend its legality.
Earlier, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said programs and projects under DAP would no longer go through lawmakers and that savings would just be used as calamity and contingency funds.
Aquino lamented critics’ comparing the DAP with the Priority Development Assistance Fund after the administration moved to go after those who had allegedly misused PDAF, particularly lawmakers. PDAF is the official term for the congressional pork barrel.
The Department of Justice filed on Sept. 16 a plunder complaint against businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada, and two former members of the House of Representatives who allegedly collected millions of pesos each in kickbacks from PDAF-funded projects.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) also filed plunder charges with the Office of the Ombudsman against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Napoles and 23 others, including former officials of her administration, for their alleged involvement in the P900-million Malampaya fund scam.
Aquino earlier said the use of DAP is allowed under Executive Order 292, or the Administrative Code of 1987, among other laws.
The President said some agencies have to retool for good governance.
Long before the issue on pork barrel scam came out or even before the impeachment trial of former chief justice Renato Corona, the Department on Budget and Management had announced the existence of DAP.
An Oct. 12, 2011 press release of the DBM posted on the Official Gazette said, “Aquino government pursues P72.11-B Disbursement Acceleration Plan” for new, fast-disbursing projects to be funded from unused 2010 and 2011 appropriations.
In that press statement, Abad said the Aquino administration would implement P72.11 billion worth of additional projects in order to fast-track disbursements and push economic growth amid global slowdown and the onslaught of several calamities.
“While there was a turnaround in our disbursement performance in August, it was not enough. That is why President Aquino instructed his government to execute these additional projects to bolster economic growth in 2011,” he said.
He said “fast-disbursing and high-impact projects” were selected for inclusion in the DAP for 2011. These would include critical public works and agriculture infrastructure projects, housing, relocation and resettlement projects, additional funding support for local government units (LGUs), rehabilitation of rail systems, projects that support peace efforts, healthcare insurance for indigents, and human resource development training, among others.
Of the P72.11 billion, P37.92 billion was earmarked for national government agencies; P7.25 billion for LGUs; and P26.90 billion for government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCC).
Funding would be sourced from pooled savings from unused appropriations in 2010 and 2011, windfall revenue from GOCCs’ dividends, and realignments within agencies in favor of fast-disbursing projects.