Former senator Joker Arroyo on Saturday denounced the present administration for dragging the name of the late former President Corazon Aquino into the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Arroyo aired his sentiments following the claim of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad during a Senate hearing that all post-Marcos governments implemented spending schemes similar to DAP.
During the hearing also attended by members of the Cabinet, including Finance Secretary chief Cesar Purisima, Abad said that the same version of DAP but with a different name was used by previous administrations, from former president Cory Aquino to former president and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
He added that the previous schemes went unnoticed because they were called by different names.
But Arroyo, who served as Cory Aquino’s executive secretary said the Cory administration “did no such thing.”
“Cory did no such thing,” Arroyo said. Before Congress convened in 1987, President Cory issued 305 Executive Orders as she then exercised law-making powers under the Freedom Constitution. “None were challenged except two, and in both cases, she accepted in good grace that an oversight might have been made because the very competent Office of Deputy Executive Secretary for Legislation doing the work of 225 legislators was undermanned.”
“This Administration must be so desperate that it has gone to such lengths, just to save their face, to even invoke President Cory as an implementor, 25 years ago, of an unconstitutional program similar to DAP,” Arroyo added.
“I want to ask President Noynoy, what has happened to you to even allow that?” “Tinataya na si Cory, that she did DAP during her term just to emphasize that (they did no wrong), they dragged the good name of Cory,” he said.
Arroyo also criticized the senators who questioned Abad during the senate inquiry, which he described as a “scripted cabinet meeting.”
“It’s like a Cabinet meeting… but (for) the President’s legal counsel and justice secretary who would have been best to answer legal questions were not around,” he said.
In his testimony, Abad cited Mrs. Aquino’s Reserve Control Account (RCA) as an example of a DAP-like spending scheme in releasing government allocations in the form of reserves which served as contingency fund in case of a fiscal deficit or calamity.
Abad claimed that former President Fidel Ramos and former President Joseph Estrada also adopted this practice and that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also used it but changed its name to “Overall Savings”.
Estrada, who is now Manila mayor, also denied Abad’s claim that he implemented a spending scheme similar to the DAP during his term as president.
“Hindi ko pwedeng gawin yun dahil labag sa ating Saligang Batas yun e. Saka magagaling yung aking naging budget secretary. Nakita niyo dapa na ang admin sa Supreme Court, tuloy tuloy na ang pag dapa niyan,” Estrada said.
Benjamin Diokno, who served as budget undersecretary for Mrs. Aquino and as budget chief for President Joseph Estrada, also belied Abad’s claim, as he said that the spending mechanisms during the administrations when he was the budget chief were in no way similar to DAP.
Diokno said that although both Mrs. Aquino and Estrada implemented the RCA, they did not allow the transfer of budget of one branch of the government to another unlike the DAP.
According to Diokno, the RCA scheme only withholds 10 to 20 percent of the budget allocated to each government agency and released during the middle of the year.
Diokno explained that during the Estrada administration, he implemented a “what you see is what you get” policy wherein 100 percent of the budget of each agency was released and only the agency it was allotted for can use it.
He added that it was only former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s spending mechanism, the Overall Savings, that was similar to the DAP.
The Supreme Court declared certain practices under DAP as “unconstitutional” last July 1.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court said the declaration of unobligated and unprogrammed funds as savings, the transfer of savings from one government branch to another, and the funding of projects not stated in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA) are unconstitutional.
Two weeks ago, Arroyo reacted to Mr. Aquino’s “threat” to the Supreme Court when he addressed the nation in explaining the DAP.
“If the President expresses lack of faith in the Supreme Court, who will? It has no armed forces to protect itself or the police to enforce its judgments,” Arroyo had said.
The former senator recently described President Aquino as an “evil genius” for using the Administrative Code of 1987 as basis for the DAP. He said the Chief Executive had complete control over the entire government, adding that the political situation was frightening because the administration had no sense of direction.
Arroyo said that the president’s threat to defy the Supreme Court ruling on DAP brings grave implications.
“As the picture looks presently, the President’s policy is to discredit the judiciary and render it impotent, subjugate further Congress, and make the President supreme,” Arroyo said.
He added, “If the President carries threat, that would dismantle the balance of power under the Constitution which is anchored on the co-equality of the three branches.”
He also said that the Palace can no longer wave the banner of “the straight path” unless they can account for the P147 billion that went through the controversial program.
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