LAWMAKERS on Sunday accused Budget Secretary Florencio Abad of holding hostage the national budget and withholding details that could prove most funds went to select legislators, their pet projects and political dynasties.
United Nationalist Alliance secretary general and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco and ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio demanded that Abad make a full accounting after the Budget Department revised the online version of the Disbursement Acceleration Program list and included “various LGUs” as lawmakers’ recipients of the funds without the Palace finding out the status of the projects.
“I got more confused by the new revision. How many times do they have to change it? Why can’t Abad submit a complete and unsanitized list of the DAP?” Tiangco said over radio dzBB. “What is Abad and this government hiding?”
Tinio said the names of the legislators and the LGUs could have been omitted to hide the identities of those who largely benefited from the DAP, parts of which were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
“It is not farfetched that the names of select legislators who were listed as proponents and the LGUs as their beneficiaries have been omitted because the Palace wants to prevent the public from knowing that the mayors and governors as recipients were also members of the lawmakers’ families,” Tinio told the Manila Standard.
“There is no hiding the fact that Malacanang is not so supportive of the anti-dynasty bill being pushed in the House,” Tinio said.
Tinio also said he found it anomalous that some lawmakers had their pet projects funded while others, particularly those in the opposition, received little or no allocation at all.
Tinio and Tiangco were among the lawmakers who did not receive any DAP funding for projects.
Tiangco said Abad was the one holding hostage the passage of the P2.606-trillion national budget by refusing to beat the deadline imposed by the House plenary.
“Abad knows I would persist on questioning the quorum for as long as he defies the order of the House plenary, to which he has committed to submit the complete and unsanitized DAP list,” Tiangco said.
But Tiangco expects the majority coalition to muster a quorum Monday after the House leadership made calls to members of the ruling Liberal Party and allies last Thursday.
While Abad continues to revise the list, Tiangco said he could not help but believe he was hiding something.
“Let us look at the history of the DAP, which was supposed to have been disbursed from 2011 to 2013. Would you believe that since then they were not able to complete the list, who are the proponents and where the money went?” Tiangco told dzBB.
Tiangco said he refused to believe the Department of Budget and Management found it difficult to sort out the list considering that the DAP issue had been the subject of oral arguments before the Supreme Court.
“The case had been discussed lengthily before the Supreme Court and the DBM would say they were not ready with the details concerning the DAP?” Tiangco said.
From Aug. 6 when Tiangco demanded that Abad submit to Congress the DAP list, Abad had more than a month to comply.
He released the list on Sept. 15, when the House began its plenary debate on the national budget.
“There should be no public fund that comes out of the coffers that the DBM did not know who was the proponent of the projects. These are duly recorded. What’s taking them so long?” said Tiangco, refusing to accept Abad’s explanation that there were 16,000 projects that were funded by the P144.43 billion DAP.
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