A Palace official on Saturday downplayed the 100-day ultimatum set for President Benigno Aquino III to scrap all discretionary funds, including his own Disbursement Acceleration Program, an alleged pork barrel in disguise.
Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that Mr. Aquino will “push for the correct things at the correct time”.
“Well, they have been talking about the 100-day deadline (since the) beginning (of) August 26, if I’m not mistaken. You know, the President and the administration will push for the correct things at the correct time,” Valte said in a radio interview.
During Aquino’s recent televised address, he emphasized that the DAP is “not Pork Barrel”.
“Let me make it clear: the Disbursement Acceleration Program is not pork barrel... the DAP is not theft. Theft is illegal.”
Valte said the Aquino administration will continue to answer all concerns and make the public understand that DAP is not the same as the controversial pork barrel where at least P10-billion was allegedly misused through a fake NGO headed by businesswoman Janet-Lim Napoles.
“At confident naman po tayo na mararating naman po natin iyong mga mas marami nating kababayan na---at alam po nila iyong pagkakaiba nung mga napo-propaganda lang or ‘yung mga tunay na nagbibigay naman po ng impormasyon. (We are confident that we can reach out all our constituents [in informing them about the DAP]. And they know the difference between propaganda and those people who are truthfully and correctly informing the public),” Valte said.
She added that the Department of Justice, which is headed by Secretary Leila de Lima, will release a third batch of cases that will be filed against politicians who allegedly were involved in the misuse of the pork barrel.
“The instructions of the President would be to make sure, as far as practicable, that these cases that are being filed will stand scrutiny and will stand for a conviction,” Valte said.
She also assured the public that the DOJ probe will be “impartial” and that the Ombudsman would review the result of the DOJ’s probe, while adding that the government has enough evidence to convict those who will be charged.
On Friday, Malacañang rejected renewed calls to abolish the DAP, as it urged the critics to wait for the Supreme Court ruling on petitions challenging its legality.
On the same day, however, anti-pork barrel advocates warned Mr. Aquino against defying the public clamor to scrap all discretionary funds, including his own, or the people would take matter into their own hands.
The #ScrapPork Network also set a Dec. 6 deadline for the President to get onboard and “destroy the barrier” that blocks his “straight path.”
The date coincides with the 100-day deadline that was imposed by the conveners of the Million People March who organized a massive anti-pork rally at the Luneta Park on Aug. 26
But Valte said that DAP is here to stay unless the SC ruled against it.
“As we’ve mentioned, the Disbursement Acceleration Program is nothing but the use of realigned savings for other purposes that have already been laid out in the General Appropriations Act,” she explained.
Valte said the Solicitor General will present the government’s side in the oral arguments to be held soon.
“It’s best to wait, considering that the court has already moved to consolidate the six different petitions against the constitutionality of the DAP,” she said.
Thirty-seven individuals, including Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind, are facing plunder, malversation, and anti-graft and corrupt practices charges before the Office of the Ombudsman after they were accused of conspiring to channel congressional funds to bogus non-government organizations and ghost projects.
Meanwhile, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez welcomed the pronouncement of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. over proposals in Congress that seek to limit the power of the Chief Executive to impound funds in the General Appropriations Act.
Romualdez, the head of the independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives, maintained that his proposed “Budget Impoundment Control Act” would put control over specific appropriations in the General Appropriations Act (GAA), thus ensuring transparency and accountability in the use of public funds.
“Since time immemorial, the Executive is exercising powers over the congressmen, and we want to put control on that. We would like to give some transparency (in the use of government funds),” Romualdez said in response to Belmonte’s statement that the proposal has “potential” this 16th Congress. With Maricel V. Cruz