THE list of 116 projects funded by the Disbursement Acceleration Program released by the Palace Monday was sanitized to remove P30 billion worth of pork barrel that contributed nothing to the economy and merely promoted patronage politics, critics of the program said Tuesday.
Former national treasurer and convener of Social Watch Philippines, Leonor Magtolis Briones and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said the Palace deliberately hid the DAP funds that went to congressmen, senators and other elected local officials.
At 4:30 p.m. Monday, shortly before President Aquino delivered his speech on the DAP, the Palace released a 19-page list containing 116 DAP-identified projects worth P72.11 billion that were approved by the President on Oct. 12, 2011.
Reyes compared the Palace list to the documents submitted to the Supreme Court entitled “Respondent’s 1st Evidence Packet” and found that some funds were deliberately hidden from the Supreme Court, the President and the public.
Based on the Supreme Court document, copies of which were obtained by the Manila Standard, of the P72.11 billion, some P6.5 billion was allocated to “PDAF (Various other local projects)” in one column that was described in another column as “for augmentation.”
But in the Palace list, the term PDAF [for Priority Development Assistance Fund] was deleted.
Its description in the second column said: “This item shall fund priority local projects nationwide requested by legislators, local government officials and national agencies.”
It no longer said it was meant for “PDAF augmentation.”
“The Palace list was to deliberately mislead the public into thinking that there was no PDAF in DAP. The Palace sanitized the list. But DAP is pork barrel like PDAF,” Reyes said.
Reyes cited items 41, 73 and 100 in the Palace DAP list hidden under the name “various local projects.”
“These items are clearly pork barrel funds intended for legislators and other officials. The pork funds hide under the name various local projects. They total P17.5 billion,” Reyes told the Manila Standard.
“Now, how would increasing PDAF or congressional pork be beneficial for the economy? The Palace tried to hide these pork funds by not mentioning the PDAF connection. We doubt if Malacanang can even account for these funds. These items prove that DAP is pork just like
PDAF, contrary to what the President claims that the two are different. It is clear, DAP equals PDAF. PDAF is painted all over the DAP projects,” Reyes said.
In the Palace list, an allocation of P6.5 billion in LGU support fund was recorded. The Palace downplayed its use by describing it as “Pursuant to the President’s directives, this amount will help local governments cushion the impact of the 4.8 percent decrease in the 2012 IRA or Internal Revenue Allotment over the 2011 levels due to abrupt decrease in national internal revenue collection in 2009.”
But in the Supreme Court evidence packet, its description says, “In FY 2012, LGUs will suffer a cut in their IRA share at about P13.6 billion. To buffer the blow of the reduction, the Support Fund will be set up for LGUs requiring financial assistance to implement projects that fall under a prescribed menu. The guidelines shall be released jointly by the DILG and DBM.”
In the Palace list, the LGU support fund had a balance of P900 million that was not indicated in the Supreme Court evidence packet.
Under the Supreme Court evidence packet, an allocation of P5.432 billion for landowners’ compensation was listed for compensable lands under the agrarian reform program.
However, in the Palace list, the amount listed was P5.46 billion that was “indicated in the memo to the President but only indicated as cash release that is not included in the P72.11-billion proposed funding.”
“This item was included in the DAP as part of the disbursement strategy since it only required the release of the NCA [cash]. It already has an appropriation in the FY 2010 and FY 2011 GAA in the total amount of P7.932 billion. The cash requirement was released on Oct. 4, 2011 to beef up disbursement alongside disbursements under DAP,” the Palace list says.
The Palace list counted the P5.46 billion allocation as included in the total amount of P72.11 billion even “if it was not included in the P72.11 billion proposed funding.
“This only goes to show that Aquino started impounding the funds as early as 2010, under the national budget approved by his predecessor,” Reyes said.
President Aquino’s first national budget was deliberated on and approved in December 2011.
Briones described as “anomalous” the Palace list because it did not have details of where exactly the money went.
“How can the President say the DAP projects were graft-free when not one project has been audited and investigated by the Commission on Audit? Where are the details? Who were the beneficiaries? Who received what and how much?” Briones said.
“Instead of explaining to the public the details of the DAP, the President went on and on defending himself and the executive, saying what they did was right. And those who question them were wrong,” Briones said.
Briones and Reyes demanded a “full disclosure” of the DAP funds from the President.
“Somebody has got to be accountable for these seemingly invisible projects. Where are these projects and where did the funds go? For as long as the Palace does not come clean, doubts will continue to taint the DAP as one big source of corruption and used for political patronage,” Briones said.