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DAP ‘misuse’ probed

Palace: Problem led to fund’s suspension Bali—After staunchly defending the Disbursement Acceleration Program that realigned savings for fast-disbursing projects, Malacañang has finally admitted that some of the P12.357 billion released to projects identified by senators and congressmen may have been misused. Presidential Communications Development Secretary Ramon Carandang said this is what prompted the Palace to suspend the DAP releases to lawmakers sometime before July this year, coinciding with the suspension of the release of the second semester pork barrel. Of the P137.3 DAP, nine percent or about P12.357 billion was released to projects identified by legislators. “There will be many issues - many side issues - but at the end of the day, no one can say that we are not doing what has to be done to correct these problems,” he said. Asked why the suspension was implemented when the Palace has repeatedly upheld that the funds went to implementing agencies and legislators only identified the projects, Carandang said: “Because there are reports coming out that some of these funds have been directed not in accordance with what is the practice of good governance.” “In the light of these reports that are coming out, the responsible thing to do is to suspend that portion of program, which has been seen to have had some questionable benefits. That’s the prudent thing to do,” he added. As this developed, the Palace also asked Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Ferdinand Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vicente Sotto III to explain why they allegedly requested to have their DAP funds in 2011 to be channelled to bogus non-government organization (NGOs) identified with alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. Presidential deputy spokeswoman Abigail Valte admitted that Malacanang was taken by surprise by the allegations that the DAP funds were being channeled to Napoles’ NGOs. She said that based on a Commission on Audit circular, if an NGO will be the beneficiary of a procurement process, the agency must hold a bidding process before they award it to the organization. Earlier reports said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had said that the economic stimulus spending programs under the offices of Senators Estrada, Revilla, Marcos and Sotto initially asked the release of P100 million each to be channelled to Napoles’ fake NGOs. The project was supposed to be implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform. Meanwhile, constitutionalists, legal experts, and lawmakers - even some who benefited from the DAP unwittingly - have warned that the P50 to P100 million releases to senators and the P10 to P15 million releases to congressmen were illegal and unconstitutional. Carandang said heads of implementing agencies will also be coming out with a list of the projects funded by DAP in the coming days to prove the positive outcome of the mechanism. In Manila, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda earlier announced that the Department of Budget and Management will also identify which projects did not push through - defeating the purpose of the DAP which was to pump prime the economy through fast-disbursing projects. One of the big-ticket items under the DAP that has not been implemented until now is the acquisition of new coaches for the Metro Rail Transit-3 costing P4.5 billion. “Maybe there were reasons why some projects were not pursued,” Lacierda said. “There was expectation that we would be able to do that but it didn’t turn out that way. So it was removed,” he added. Aside from the new MRT coaches, other big ticket items that were covered by DAP funds and were supposed to be fast-disbursing include P1.68 billion for the rehabilitation of LRT-1 and LRT-2; P10 billion to relocate and resettle communities in identified danger areas that have been repeatedly affected by a string of typhoons and other disasters; P1 billion for housing projects for Bureau of Fire Protection and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology personnel; P2.28 billion for incentives of personnel of the Department of Public Works and Highways affected by the rationalization program; and P4.28 billion in additional funding for state colleges and universities. Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares demanded that the DBM explain the P475 million it coursed through the DAR in December 2011 which the department returned as they have not requested for it and did not know what it was for. Colmenares said that it has been over a month since he asked for a formal explanation as well as the pertinent documents from DBM Sec. Florencio ‘Butch’ Abad during the budget hearings of the Committee on Appropriations, but have yet to receive any explanation on the issue. Colmenares said that all he hear from Abad are his statements to the media that the amount is also part of the DAP. With Sara Fabunan and Fred Villareal
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