ALL POST-MARCOS Presidents have made use of a mechanism similar to the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that was declared partly unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told a Senate committee on Friday.
Interestingly, however, it was Senate President Franklin Drilon who did much of the explaining in behalf of Abad, his partymate.
Drilon made a powerpoint presentation where he showed that President Corazon Aquino had created what she called a reserve control account in 1989, from which she pooled savings to allocate to other projects. Drilon said that in 1989, the Cory government disbursed P17.5 billion from its reserve control account.
The practice was carried on by all Presidents since, with President Fidel Ramos disbursing P44 billion, President Joseph Estrada with P36.8 billion, and President Gloria Arroyo with P189.2 billion.
“This is equivalent to DAP,” Drilon said during the hearing. “Ganun din ang konsepto, iba lang ang tawag.”
Abad seconded Drilon’s opinion, saying that it was the practice then to declare an enforced savings of as much as 25 percent at the start of the fiscal year to offset the fiscal crisis.
“Itong mga account, iniimpound ang pera sa umpisa by as much as 25 percent,” Abad said. “Sa umpisa ng taon, may savings na nawithhold na.”
Drilon also sought to point out that cross border transfers of funds had been done by all administrations as well. For example, Drilon said that the Executive also transferred P7.39 billion to what was called Constitutionally Fiscally Autonomous Groups (CFAG), another name for constitutional bodies like the Commission on Audit, the Ombudsman, and the Commission on Elections. Drilon said more such transfers were done from 1996 to 2000.
The Supreme Court had ruled portions of DAP unconstitutional, including what it called cross border transfers of funds, or the use of savings to augment the budget of other branches of the government.