DAP: THE CONTROVERSIAL Disbursement Acceleration Program OF PRESIDENT NOY AQUINO

1st PART ON DAP: PALACE LYING ON DAP - BAYAN

Militant group Bayan on Friday reiterated that the government's Disbursement Acceleration Program is not an economic stimulus scheme but a tool President Benigno Aquino III uses to sway Congress to his side. Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. also accused Malacañang of lying after it belied reports that DAP funds went to four senators in 2012 during the impeachment of ex-Chief Justice Renato Corona. The Palace maintained that the funds were part of a “stimulus” program. "It is obvious that this mechanism is not for stimulating the economy. It is a means for stimulating the appetite of the corrupt. It is a means for the President to hold sway over Congress. That is what the DAP is really about," Reyes said. "The P370 million to four senators is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. There are many more questionable DAP disbursements that the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) sought presidential authority to undertake. These projects may have ended up graft-ridden as well," Reyes added.

ALSO: DAP lacks transparency, Miriam says

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago (photo) believes the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) lacked transparency from the start. As early as the impeachment trial of ousted chief justice Renato Corona in 2012, it has not been transparent, she added. Nobody knew about the DAP until Budget Secretary Florencio Abad explained the P50-million additional funds distributed to each senator-judge after the conviction of Corona, Santiago said. The DAP came out after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada revealed a supposed bribe to senator-judges in a privilege speech last year. “That was introduced into our vocabulary only after the impeachment trial. That is the downside to extreme secrecy... lack of transparency. “In my case, I never knew. I had no clue. I was completely clueless about the DAP while we were struggling with legal technicalities during the impeachment trial.” Santiago said she was not aware that the executive department released extra funds later known as DAP at the height of Corona’s impeachment trial. She said the test for bribery was not when it was given, but whether the amount influenced a senator-judge to change his decision.

ALSO: Bayan to Pnoy: Come clean on P6.5B DAP fund

Militant group Bayan on Monday dared Malacañang to disclose to the public where the P6.5-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program for lawmakers in 2011 went. Bayan believed the funds to be part of the priority development assistance fund augmentation at the height of the ex-Chief Justice Renato Corona trial. The group said that the funding was approved by President Benigno Aquino III on Oct. 12, 2011, according to a Department of Budget and Management memorandum. "Malacañang said that the DAP is not pork, yet some P6.5 billion was earmarked to augment the PDAF or pork of lawmakers," Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said. In his memorandum to the President, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad sought the President’s formal approval of some P72.11 billion in DAP projects. Included in the list were P6.5 billion in DAP funds supposedly to augment the PDAF of lawmakers, under the item "various local projects." The terms ‘"PDAF" and "for augmentation" were found in the annex to the memo that listed and described the various DAP projects. The President approved the projects on the same day, the group alleged.

ALSO: Solons got P5B in DAP during impeachment trial of Corona

The Aquino administration used P6.5 billion from the little-known Disbursement Acceleration
Program (DAP) before, during and after the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona to bend Congress to its will, two members of the House of Representatives told the Inquirer. The sources estimated that the House got as much as P5 billion in DAP funds, while the senators received the remaining P1.5 billion, as admitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) itself. The sources, who did not wish to be identified because of the confidential information involved, said the DBM released to the representatives at least P10 million each from the DAP, supposedly a novel scheme to stimulate the economy.
The amount represented P7 million for farm-to-market roads and P3 million for soft projects, such as milk-feeding programs, under the DAP—an impounding mechanism supposedly for government savings that shifted funds from projects identified by Congress to those chosen by the executive branch in 2012. The funds released to congressmen from the DAP, whose constitutionality has been questioned in the Supreme Court, were on top of the P70 million in annual allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel.

ALSO: Opposition Party UNA hits ‘DAP coverup’

THE United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) on Wednesday accused the current administration of covering up the “crime scene” on the alleged misuse of the presidential funds released through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Rep. Tobias “Toby” Tiangco of Navotas, UNA secretary general, said leaders of the House of Representatives and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) continue to refuse to release the list of lawmakers who have received DAP funds. “Where is the master list of Congress and DBM? If they don’t want to present it because it may incriminate them, then, we can say that the Administration is adopting a no-gun-no-murder defense to cover the DAP crime scene,” Tiangco said. He criticized Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad for coming up with alibis instead of disclosing the names of lawmakers who helped themselves to the DAP funds. “The first excuse of Secretary Abad is that it was on a Sunday when he was asked about the list so the records were not available, while the Speaker said he could not recall it anymore. I’m wondering what would be their next alibi,” Tiangco said.Tiangco reiterated his challenge to Abad to fully disclose the list of projects and their corresponding implementing agencies where DAP funds were used, in the spirit of transparency, accountability and fairness. He added that Belmonte’s refusal to disclose the names of the recipients is unfair to other lawmakers who, like him, did not receive allocations from the DAP.

ALSO: The UP Forum Roundtable Discussion: Pork Barrel and the Use (or Misuse) of Other Discretionary Funds

Is there hope for the abolition of all pork? If this is not an option, what measures are necessary to ensure that public funds go to target beneficiaries and are used judiciously and effectively?


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

PALACE LYING ON DAP - BAYAN


DBM Secretary Butch Abad and President Aquino (File Photo)

MANILA, MARCH 3, 2014
(PHILSTAR) By Dennis Carcamo (philstar.com) | Updated February 21, 2014 - Militant group Bayan on Friday reiterated that the government's Disbursement Acceleration Program is not an economic stimulus scheme but a tool President Benigno Aquino III uses to sway Congress to his side.

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. also accused Malacañang of lying after it belied reports that DAP funds went to four senators in 2012 during the impeachment of ex-Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The Palace maintained that the funds were part of a “stimulus” program.

"It is obvious that this mechanism is not for stimulating the economy. It is a means for stimulating the appetite of the corrupt. It is a means for the President to hold sway over Congress. That is what the DAP is really about," Reyes said.

"The P370 million to four senators is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. There are many more questionable DAP disbursements that the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) sought presidential authority to undertake. These projects may have ended up graft-ridden as well," Reyes added.

In its submission to the Supreme Court, it was revealed that the DBM, in an Oct.12, 2011 memorandum to the President, was seeking authority to utilize P6.5 billion in DAP funds to augment PDAF.

In the DBM project listing, the funds were for so-called "various local projects, PDAF augmentation."

"The public has every right to know how the money was utilized. Malacañang should stop feeding us the same recycled DAP spin and start showing us the audit reports of these projects,” Reyes said.

DAP lacks transparency, Miriam says By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 21, 2014 - 12:00am 0 3 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago (photo) believes the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) lacked transparency from the start.

As early as the impeachment trial of ousted chief justice Renato Corona in 2012, it has not been transparent, she added.

Nobody knew about the DAP until Budget Secretary Florencio Abad explained the P50-million additional funds distributed to each senator-judge after the conviction of Corona, Santiago said.

The DAP came out after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada revealed a supposed bribe to senator-judges in a privilege speech last year.

“That was introduced into our vocabulary only after the impeachment trial. That is the downside to extreme secrecy... lack of transparency.

“In my case, I never knew. I had no clue. I was completely clueless about the DAP while we were struggling with legal technicalities during the impeachment trial.” Santiago said she was not aware that the executive department released extra funds later known as DAP at the height of Corona’s impeachment trial. She said the test for bribery was not when it was given, but whether the amount influenced a senator-judge to change his decision.

“For example, if you give a senator a basket of mangoes, that’s not bribery, that’s not going to change his mind. But if you give him P50 million, that would change his mind,” she said.

“Now they are arguing whether this was given before, during or after the impeachment? That is not the test for whether there has been bribery. The test for bribery is this: Whether that amount is sufficient to change his mind. That is the test for bribery. So you have to ask yourself, was the amount sufficient to change his mind?

“We are all of course, required, sitting as trial judges, to keep an open mind and keep a cold neutrality of an impartial judge,” she said.

“But if that amount was sufficient to remove that cold impartiality then that is a bribe, whether it was given before, during or after, it doesn’t matter.”

‘Gov’t arguments alibis’

A petitioner labeled as “alibis” the government’s arguments in defending the DAP’s legality before the Supreme Court (SC).

Making the arguments during the third and final oral argument last Tuesday were Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza and retired SC Justice Vicente Mendoza.

In a statement, former Manila councilor Greco Belgica said: “Not even the brilliant Justice Mendoza was able to disprove the illegality of DAP. The government’s defense was an alibi.”

Mendoza argued that the petitioners have no legal standing to question the DAP.

The principle of separation of powers would be violated if the SC rules on the issue because “no actual case of controversy” exists, he added.

Petitioners should have first question the DAP before the Commission on Audit or the trial courts, Mendoza said.

However, Belgica said he and other petitioners came to the right place to question the DAP’s constitutionality.

“It is our right as taxpayers to question this abusive system of government spending,” he said. “We are the most aggrieved party in this case and only the Supreme Court can answer such constitutional question.”

Mendoza insisted that petitioners availed of the wrong remedy in filing the petition when they cannot be considered aggrieved parties under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

Petitioners also failed to exhaust all other legal remedies before bringing the matter to the SC, he added.

Responding, Belgica said an actual case exists for the SC to rule on.

“As citizens, it is our right not just to tell government officials to stop stealing and diverting our money, but fire these crooks and make them pay and tell them to give back what was stolen or illegally used,” he said.

In the second oral argument last Jan. 28, the Office of the Solicitor General said the SC need not rule on the merit of DAP as the program has ceased to exist.

Belgica said the defense was an admission of the DAP’s illegality and an attempt to evade the real constitutional issues raised in the petitions. “The government’s attempt to make our DAP petitions moot, in effect, is an attempt to make illegal acts impossible to punish,” he said.

Filing the eight other petitions last year were former lawmaker Augusto Syjuco, lawyers Jose Malvar Villegas Jr. and Manuelito Luna; Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Bayan Muna, Kabataan and Gabriela, Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage), and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption. – With Edu Punay, Paolo Romero

Bayan to Pnoy: Come clean on P6.5B DAP fund By Dennis Carcamo (philstar.com) | Updated February 24, 2014 - 2:00pm 1 1 googleplus0 0


Renato Reyes, Jr., BAYAN Secretary General

MANILA, Philippines - Militant group Bayan on Monday dared Malacañang to disclose to the public where the P6.5-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program for lawmakers in 2011 went.

Bayan believed the funds to be part of the priority development assistance fund augmentation at the height of the ex-Chief Justice Renato Corona trial.

The group said that the funding was approved by President Benigno Aquino III on Oct. 12, 2011, according to a Department of Budget and Management memorandum.

"Malacañang said that the DAP is not pork, yet some P6.5 billion was earmarked to augment the PDAF or pork of lawmakers," Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said.

In his memorandum to the President, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad sought the President’s formal approval of some P72.11 billion in DAP projects.

Included in the list were P6.5 billion in DAP funds supposedly to augment the PDAF of lawmakers, under the item "various local projects."

The terms ‘"PDAF" and "for augmentation" were found in the annex to the memo that listed and described the various DAP projects.

The President approved the projects on the same day, the group alleged.

Bayan said that the memorandum was among the various documents submitted by the DBM to the Supreme Court during the oral arguments on the constitutionality of the DAP.

Some of the funds, around P370 million, were supposedly released as early as March 2012, at the height of the Corona trial, to four senators.

"It is also strange that the project approved by the president was a P6.5 billion lump-sum with no other description but "for augmentation" of existing PDAF allocations, allegedly for "various local projects." The memorandum offers no other explanation...Who then determines how the P6.5 billion will be allocated?" Reyes said.

"The entire project approved by the President is suspicious," he added.

Abad has been quoted as saying that not all DAP funds went to lawmakers.

"This could be true, except that the funds that did not go to lawmakers went to other questionable spending which could be similar to pork. Take for example the P2-billion Tarlac roads project, or the P6.5 billion LGU assistance fund," Reyes said

FROM THE INQUIRER

Solons got P5B in DAP during impeachment trial of Corona By Gil C. Cabacungan Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:40 am | Monday, February 24th, 2014

Asked for comment, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said: “I cannot remember the incident. Haven’t heard of DAP back then. We will check.”
 


http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2014/02/corona-trial-0224.jpg
File photo of the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona at the Senate.The Aquino administration used P6.5 billion from the little-known Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) before, during and after the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona to bend Congress to its will, two members of the House of Representatives have told the Inquirer. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

The Aquino administration used P6.5 billion from the little-known Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) before, during and after the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona to bend Congress to its will, two members of the House of Representatives told the Inquirer.

The sources estimated that the House got as much as P5 billion in DAP funds, while the senators received the remaining P1.5 billion, as admitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) itself.

The sources, who did not wish to be identified because of the confidential information involved, said the DBM released to the representatives at least P10 million each from the DAP, supposedly a novel scheme to stimulate the economy.

The amount represented P7 million for farm-to-market roads and P3 million for soft projects, such as milk-feeding programs, under the DAP—an impounding mechanism supposedly for government savings that shifted funds from projects identified by Congress to those chosen by the executive branch in 2012.

The funds released to congressmen from the DAP, whose constitutionality has been questioned in the Supreme Court, were on top of the P70 million in annual allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel.

The sources said that the House leadership and its impeachment team were rewarded between P25 million and P50 million in DAP funds after Corona was convicted in May 2012, or seven months after Budget Secretary Florencio Abad announced the P70.5-billion spending plan for the DAP, including a P6.5 billion augmentation for the PDAF.

They said they were asked by the DBM to give their preferred LGUs and beneficiaries for their DAP allocations.

Asked for comment, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte (photo) said: “I cannot remember the incident. Haven’t heard of DAP back then. We will check.”

In a text message, Abad said: “I don’t have the information right now, it’s a Sunday. But I am sure that the rest of the funds did not go exclusively to representatives. Some were requested by and allocated to national government agencies, some were requested by local government units. Not all (DAP funds) were, I think, disbursed.”

Abad was adamant that the DAP was not meant to bribe lawmakers into ousting Corona whose midnight appointment by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was widely reviled.

“The allocations, if I recall correctly, were made irrespective of whether the representatives were for or against the impeachment,” Abad said.

Corona was convicted for dishonesty in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.

Special purpose

In a statement, Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco said: “Based on reports and by its own admission, the DBM used the DAP before, during and after the Corona impeachment trial between 2011 and 2012.

“Corona was impeached on Dec. 12, 2011, endorsed by 188 congressmen. Based on the timeline, the DAP was created in October 2011 and fund requests made by legislators were already in order in November 2011—or exactly during the time they were cooking up and gathering support for the Corona impeachment.

“It’s a puzzle that only a few knew about DAP then.”

Tiangco, the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general, said the DAP was “used as an excuse to cover the P50-million bribe to senators and P10 million given to congressmen for the conviction” of Corona.

“The DAP was designed and created as a piggy bank to fund persuasive missions with a very special purpose,” Tiangco said.

The DBM earlier claimed that DAP funds were released after Corona’s conviction because it was wary it could be seen as an attempt to influence Corona’s removal.

“No one knew about the DAP until September 2013 when Sen. Jinggoy Estrada disclosed that the administration tapped the funds to ‘bribe’ lawmakers to oust Corona. Until now, the Administration is not telling everything about the DAP—they’re twisting the facts to cover it up because they know it’s illegal and unconstitutional,” Tiangco said.

DAR and NLDC

In a phone interview, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said that when his agency received several special allotment release orders (Saros) and notices of cash allocations (NCAs) on Dec. 6, 2011, he was unaware that these were DAP funds. He said supporting documents identified the funding from the 2011 budget for beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

The Inquirer has copies of the DAR’s Saros and NCAs for six senators worth a combined P475 million—P100 million each for Estrada, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Ramon Revilla Jr.; P70 million for Vicente Sotto III; P55 million for Juan Ponce Enrile; and P50 million for Loren Legarda.

De los Reyes said Abad had asked him to accommodate the release of the funds for the senators whose beneficiaries turned out to be fake foundations used by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles in the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scheme.

He said he told the budget secretary that the DAR was yet to spend the P1 billion lump-sum funds that the DBM had allocated for 2011 and that he insisted that the new funds go through the required processes.

“We spent lots of time and manpower to spend the P1 billion by the book, we couldn’t just accept fresh funds and just release [the money] without putting it through the same process,” De los Reyes said.

Abad washes hands

The DBM had a different version. In a statement, it claimed that Estrada, Marcos, Revilla and Sotto had requested the realignment of the funds from the DAR to state-owned National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC). (The DBM has not yet revealed where the DAP funds of Enrile and Legarda went, although a government source said these were diverted to LGUs).

“The requests—which were made by the senators’ offices in late December 2011 and early February 2012—were received by the DBM in early February and March 2012. The four senators essentially asked us to change the implementing agency from DAR to NLDC.

“In their requests, Senators Marcos, Estrada, Sotto and Revilla changed their nominated projects to programs for displaced or marginal families, for which NLDC was specified by the senators’ offices as the implementing arm. We thus withdrew the earlier Saros for the DAR and issued these instead to NLDC in March 2012, exactly as the senators requested,” the DBM said.

In their letters to NLDC, the senators were adamant on the immediate release of the funds as these would be used for the victims of recent natural calamities.

But just like the DAR, NLDC president Gondolina Amata told the DBM of her reluctance to have the state micro-lending firm used again as a conduit for the senators’ funds.

Amata also thought the funds the DBM gave to her in March 2012 were from the PDAF that NLDC had stopped dealing with since the COA started its probe of the fake foundations getting pork barrel funds.

The DBM, however, prevailed on her to release the funds as these were the DAP and not the PDAF.

Abad practically washed his hands of any responsibility on the deployment of the funds, saying this was a matter between the implementing agency (IA) and the lawmaker. “You will have to ask the IA and the legislator what happened,” he said.

FROM MANILA TIMES

Opposition hits ‘DAP coverup’ February 26, 2014 11:25 pm by Ritchie A. Horario Reporter and Joel M. Sy Egco Senior Reporter


THE OPPOSITION PARTY: United Nationalist Alliance (UNA)

UNA blames Budget dept., House leaders

MANILA -THE United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) on Wednesday accused the current administration of covering up the “crime scene” on the alleged misuse of the presidential funds released through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Rep. Tobias “Toby” Tiangco of Navotas, UNA secretary general, said leaders of the House of Representatives and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) continue to refuse to release the list of lawmakers who have received DAP funds.

“Where is the master list of Congress and DBM? If they don’t want to present it because it may incriminate them, then, we can say that the Administration is adopting a no-gun-no-murder defense to cover the DAP crime scene,” Tiangco said.

He criticized Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad for coming up with alibis instead of disclosing the names of lawmakers who helped themselves to the DAP funds.

“The first excuse of Secretary Abad is that it was on a Sunday when he was asked about the list so the records were not available, while the Speaker said he could not recall it anymore. I’m wondering what would be their next alibi,” Tiangco said.

Tiangco reiterated his challenge to Abad to fully disclose the list of projects and their corresponding implementing agencies where DAP funds were used, in the spirit of transparency, accountability and fairness.

He added that Belmonte’s refusal to disclose the names of the recipients is unfair to other lawmakers who, like him, did not receive allocations from the DAP.

Tiangco said he could not understand why Belmonte would not comment on who among the congressmen received DAP funds even if, in fact, all Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) are released by the Speaker’s Office.

He explained that congressmen do not get their SAROs directly from the budget department. It is issued by the DBM through the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“Bakit nga ba nila kailangang itago ang masterlist? Takot ba silang makita kung sino ang nakinabang sa DAP at magkano ang napunta kanino? [Why, may I ask, do they need to hide the masterlist?

Are they afraid to show who benefited from the DAP and how much was released to whom?]” he asked.

Belmonte has said Abad has the sole discretion in releasing the funds.

Tiangco earlier said Abad should also be held accountable for the release of public funds to questionable non-government organizations (NGOs). He said the budget chief is as guilty as the lawmakers who poured the money into fake NGOs.

However, Malacañang came to Abad’s defense, saying the Budget chief should not be blamed for the release of funds through the controversial disbursement program to groups linked to alleged fund scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said Tiangco was barking up the wrong tree.

“Well, obviously, we don’t agree with Congressman Tiangco because as far as I can remember in this particular issue, it was the senators who identified [the beneficiaries],” Valte told reporters.

Valte said the lawmakers identified where the funds should go and they also requested the transfer of the money from the Agrarian Reform department to the government owned and controlled corporation.

“They [lawmakers] were the ones who requested that the agency in the beginning, if I’m not mistaken, it was supposed to be DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform], and then transferred to the NLDC,” she said, referring to the National Livelihood Development Corp.

Valte added “there are documents to that effect.”

As a GOCC, the NLDC actively pursues a package of livelihood and enterprise development programs and interventions to hasten socio-economic growth in the countryside especially in the hard-to-reach agrarian reform communities (ARC).

The NLDC serves sectors at the bottom rung of the economic ladder by making financing available to them and also by engaging them in capability-building programs, according to the agency’s website.

Valte emphasized that Abad was not the one who identified the agencies “where the funds should go and which [agency] should execute the program.”

Tiangco earlier said Abad had a hand in all DAP releases because of his position as Budget secretary.

“We all know that there were fake NGOs that benefited from the DAP. The other question here is, who facilitated the special funds coming from DAP? Eh sino ba ang namumuno ng [who heads the] DBM?” he asked.

But Abad said he questioned why the funds were channeled to DAR when the DBM had just approved the release of funds for the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Service.

FROM UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES WORDPRESS FORUM

The UP Forum Roundtable Discussion: Pork Barrel and the Use (or Misuse) of Other Discretionary Funds Posted on January 24, 2014 by upweb_wordpress in UP Forum

Q. Is there hope for the abolition of all pork?

If this is not an option, what measures are necessary to ensure that public funds go to target beneficiaries and are used judiciously and effectively?

Neri J. Colmenares, LL.B
Party-List Representative,
Bayan Muna House of Representatives
Republic of the Philippines

The rising outrage of the Filipino people over the pork barrel scam provided the impetus for the widespread call for the abolition of the pork barrel system. Thus, with the sustained and heightened peoples’ participation and pressure on government officials, there is hope for the abolition of the pork barrel system.

We, in Bayan Muna, after the expose of the pork barrel scam in July, filed a bill seeking to abolish the pork barrel.

At that time, our colleagues in Congress told us that our bill was “suntok sa buwan.” But Congress, after seeing the massive and continued protests of the people, finally thought twice about the issue.

Suddenly, maintaining the PDAF doesn’t seem like a very viable political idea even for the traditional politician. News reports would bear that the position of Congress transitioned from defense of the pork, to suspension, to abolition, and finally to come up with a new scheme hiding it.

For us the pork barrel system consists not only of the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) of Congress, but also includes the presidential pork.

We have defined the pork barrel as “Lump sum amounts, the disposition of which, including the selection of the project, its amount, and the beneficiaries, is left solely at the discretion of the pork holder.”

Its nature is as follows:
(1) It is nontransparent, making it a source of graft and corruption;
(2) public funds are disbursed to favor political allies and withheld from the opposition in the form of political patronage and “legalized” vote buying; and
(3) it violates the required collective and deliberative process of budgeting public funds, diverting these funds to unnecessary whimsical projects.

Based on our studies, the pork barrel system for the 2014 budget consists of the following funds: Priority Development Assistance Fund; Special Purpose Funds; Unprogrammed Funds; Overall Savings; Off-budget accounts, e.g. Malampaya Fund, President Social Fund. Combined, the pork barrel system amounts to P946.54 Billion.

There is a problem in viewing the pork barrel system as being comprised only of the PDAF.

First, the PDAF amounts only to P25.24 billion of the P946.54 billion total pork barrel, which is actually presidential pork barrel used for patronage politics. Removing only the PDAF would not eliminate the dangers and ills of the pork barrel system, because it is only a small component of it.

Moreover, Congress would be wholly dependent on the President’s patronage powers—the President doesn’t have to distribute equally an amount of public fund to lawmakers previously available as PDAF; pork distribution would depend solely on the President’s discretion.

So far, we have a number of legislators supporting the abolition of the pork barrel system, albeit the majority prefer to abolish only the PDAF.

Only Sen. Chiz Escudero and Alan Peter Cayetano have also called for the abolition of lump sum funds.

In the Senate, most of the senators are now in favor of abolishing the PDAF—Alan Peter Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Grace Poe, JV Ejercito, Bong Revilla, Bam Aquino, Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Aquilino Pimentel III, Tito Sotto, TG Guingona, Gregorio Honasan, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Nancy Binay, Ralph Recto.

At the House of Representatives, the Makabayan bloc, consisting of progressive party-lists Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Kabataan and ACT Teachers, filed House Resolution No. 298 calling for the abolition of the pork barrel system, itemization of lump sum funds and allocation of the funds to basic social services, and salary increase for government employees in the 2014 national budget.

For Bayan Muna, no amount of reform can clean the pork barrel system.

As long as the policy of the government with respect to government funds and budgeting is undemocratic and nontransparent, with billions of pesos in lump sums and subject to the sole discretion of the President, the Filipino people who need social services the most will not receive it.

Thus the only solution is to abolish this system.

Representative Colmenares earned his Bachelor of Laws from UP. Email him at nericolmenares@bayanmuna.net.

Antonio L. Tinio, AB
Party-List Representative, ACT Teachers
House of Representatives
Republic of the Philippines

The Makabayan Coalition in the Lower House, of which ACT Teachers is a member, has consistently stood for the abolition of PDAF and the whole pork barrel system.

On July 17 and September 16, we filed (1) House Bill 1535 and (2) House Resolution 298 for the abolition of the pork barrel system and itemization of these discretionary lump sum funds, and their realignment to basic social services, substantial salary increases for government employees, and job creation.

Both measures were filed as response to the intense public disgust against the institutionalized patronage and officially tolerated graft and corruption.

These proposals for much-needed reforms in the handling of and accountability over public funds were filed with the realization that we sponsors have to contend with political realities.

We are aware that the pork barrel system and the culture of patronage it perpetuates are deeply ingrained in Philippine politics, and this patronage in the high levels of government is precisely the reason why laws benefitting the people are very rarely passed.

Indeed, as confirmed by the responses of the President and the leadership of Congress (who have the most significant interest in maintaining the pork barrel system), the possibility of the enactment of House Bill 1535 and House Resolution 298 into law is nil.

However, we are confident that the righteous public outrage generated by the various scams involving the pork barrel system will propel this issue forward.

The fight against all forms of pork—and any issue concerning public interest, for that matter—will be won not within the legislative arena, certainly not through the voluntary renunciation of the President and the Congress leadership.

It is the people’s collective outrage, translated into action, that is decisive in effecting genuine reforms—until the government heeds the just demand of the people, whether out of fear of another uprising or because it adopts a principled stand, the pork barrel system will not be completely abolished.

The approval of the proposed 2014 budget is nearing in Congress, and ACT Teachers along with the progressive party-lists and like-minded legislators in the Lower House exert every effort to expose as pork discretionary lump sum funds in whatever agency they are found.

Aside from the P25.24 billion congressional pork or PDAF, we identified at least P147.87 billion of presidential pork found off-budget (like the Malampaya account and the President’s Social Fund), P173.5 billion Special Purpose Funds, P83.87 billion Unprogrammed Funds, P280.78 billion unused appropriations pooled under DBM control, and P235.28 billion pork scattered in several agencies.

Our proposals include itemization of amorphous lump sums for greater transparency and their realignment for basic social services, substantial salary increases for government employees, and job creation. House Resolution 298 contains concrete proposals for realignment, such as doubled MOOE for public schools; addressing the shortages in facilities, classrooms, and teachers; restoration of budgets slashed from SUCs; and increased salaries and benefits for teaching and non-teaching personnel.

Aside from overhauling the national budget and the processes behind it, greater safeguards in the administration of public funds need to be installed.

These include the abolition of Presidential discretion over off-budget accounts and transferring them to the general fund for public and congressional scrutiny and approval. This will comply with the constitutional mandate that all public funds should be spent only for public purposes, and that all government revenues should accrue to a single fund and scrutinized then paid out pursuant to appropriations made by Congress.

We have filed bills to this effect concerning the Malampaya account and the remittances to the President of PAGCOR and PCSO earnings.

Other significant reforms would entail reining in the President’s (1) power to impound (or not spend) appropriations made by Congress and (2) habit of centralizing large amounts under DBM control such as in the case of unobligated funds (National Budget Circular 541 issued by DBM in August 2012).

Representative Tinio earned his Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from UP. Email him at rep.antonio.tinio@gmail.com.

Prospero E. de Vera, DPA
Professor, National College of Public Administration and Governance
UP Diliman

On August 26, 2013 as the multitude of angry protesters convened in historic Rizal Park to hold the Million People March, I spoke in Pinky Webb’s Mornings at ANC program and said “I am against the outright abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) because it is a simplistic solution to a complex problem.”

I received a lot of flak for that statement including allegations that I have become the spokesperson for Congress and Malacañang.

But my position is clear and simple. The issue is not the abolition of the PDAF, or the later and more controversial Development Acceleration Fund (DAP), or graft and corruption. The issue is about “discretion” in the use of public funds.

Over time, we have given a small number of elected and appointed officials in government vast powers, and broad discretion, to determine how public funds will be appropriated and spent.

Many of these decisions are done behind closed doors and are not subject to public scrutiny and transparency. The broad discretion, lack of transparency, weak accountability mechanisms, and poor government controls breed corruption.

If “pork” is defined as lump sum appropriations, the disposition of which is left solely to the discretion of an office holder, then it now exists in all branches of government.

It is called PDAF in Congress; includes the Social Fund and Malampaya Funds of the President; and lump sum appropriations in every department for “intelligence,” livelihood, farmers’ assistance, public safety, peace building, pollution control, road safety, and capital outlay for various purposes. There is the Judicial Development Fund (JDF) in the Supreme Court, and pork barrel in all provincial boards and city councils.

When we say “we should abolish all pork” what exactly do we mean? Abolish all funds that are subject to the discretion of public officials?

While abolishing all “pork” will pander to the public outcry against corruption it will create more problems than solutions.

How do we expect the President (or key cabinet members) and local governments to respond to the needs of affected communities hit by disasters?

Will the President tell victims to wait for the next year’s budget so funds can be appropriated for the relief and reconstruction of their communities?

And if we abolish PDAF will corruption suddenly disappear in government projects?

What about corruption in executive agencies?

Will shifting expenditures exclusive to executive departments reduce corruption?

This is what I mean when I say we should not have simplistic solutions to complex problems.

The issue of discretion and misuse of public funds can only be discussed and resolved if we do the following:

First, we need to see the whole picture on the misuse of public funds.

How much public funds are subject to the discretion of public officials?

Where are these funds?

What are the lump sum appropriations that are worded in generic terms such that these can be misused?

We know that the PDAF amounts to about P25B but beyond that we don’t know the numbers.

We might be shocked when we find out that the “pork” in the other branches of government (and local governments) is much bigger than the PDAF that we are so agitated about.

If we find out that discretion results in the misuse of public funds, then we must make sure that these officials must be punished. This is non-negotiable. I support not only the filing of cases against corrupt government officials but also the public shaming of these officials to make sure they will not win in the next election.

We must then decide—should discretion be stopped altogether? Or do we still allow discretion but put stronger control mechanisms in place? We also decide who among the government officials should have some discretion in the use of public funds.

Finally, once we know the amount of public funds subject to discretion, how discretion has been exercised, and determine the officials and offices that should continue having some discretion, then we debate on the proper allocation of public funds. I support the call for re-channeling these funds for education and health care but this must be decided upon in full public debate, not just by politicians and bureaucrats in the executive and legislative branches of government.

The recent Supreme Court decision on the PDAF has put in place some of the reforms in the use of pork.

Legislators now cannot be involved in the identification of, and amounts to be given for, projects in their district or any part of the country.

Even before the SC decision, the House of Representatives required its members to submit a list of infrastructure projects (worth P25M) to be implemented in their districts in 2014.

This list will be included in the proposed 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and will be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). This reform is consistent with the SC decision and takes the form of “earmarks” in the US model of pork barrel.

This is possible for “hard pork” or infrastructure projects which can be pre-identified but impossible for “soft pork” such as scholarships or medical assistance for constituents.

The PDAF allocation for scholarships and medical assistance has been put in CHED and DoH with a provision that there will be “consultation with the representative in the district”.

This violates the SC decision. The CHED and the House of Representatives must now find creative ways to allow legislators to participate in the selection of beneficiaries.

Sixteen senators have decided to forego their P200M PDAF allocation and want it deducted from the proposed 2014 budget.

The question is—what happens to the other senators who want to continue receiving PDAF?

How will this lump sum appropriation appear in the GAA?

What would be the mechanism will be used in the implementation of this fund?

Will this mechanism be consistent with the SC decision?

Interestingly, the SC decision can now be used to question the pork barrel in local governments.

Local legislators enjoy broader and wider discretion in the use of pork compared to their counterparts in Congress.

Control mechanisms are weaker at the local level, and NGOs and the media are not as active in monitoring public expenditures. It is about time that we look into the local government pork.

There are other reforms that need to be undertaken if we want to make sure that public funds are used judiciously, effectively, and go to targeted beneficiaries.

One, we need serious and drastic reforms in our auditing system.

The Commission on Audit must immediately make public all audit reports in the past years, explain why some agencies and years were not audited, and penalize their personnel who failed to audit agency expenditures.

The knee jerk response of COA is to say that they lack the personnel. COA must now think out of the box and partner with private audit companies and associations like the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) to effectively undertake its audit responsibilities.

This is a standard practice in many developed countries and is allowed under the constitutional provisions creating the COA.

Two, we must hold the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) accountable for their systems and procedures that allowed the Napoles NGOs to conduct business.

These NGOs had the proper papers from SEC and accreditation from DA. The congressional hearings have identified these lapses. People must now be held accountable and new systems have to be put in place.

Three, the DBM must also make public all the projects funded through DAP if it is true, as the agency claims, that these accelerated the economy.

I know a lot of projects funded through DAP that were beneficial, implemented well, and were not accompanied by corruption allegation.

But I do not know whether this is the same situation across agencies and regions. The piece-meal and “by installment” approach of showing beneficial projects funded from DAP does not allow for full public debate and the negative public perception on the DAP will continue.

Finally, we need serious budget reform in this country.

The line item veto power of the President and the mechanism for automatic appropriations must be abolished because these unduly tilts the balance of power towards the executive branch, creates an imperial presidency, and creates fiscal irresponsibility among legislative and executive officials.

Dr. De Vera earned his Bachelor of Arts in History and Doctor of Public Administration from UP. Email him at deverajp@yahoo.com.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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