IF MALACANANG is going to insist that its implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is well intentioned, then it may as well remember what the road to hell is paved with, said Senator JV Ejercito during the Senate finance committee hearing on the DAP controversy.
After grilling Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on the details of the DAP that he instituted in 2011, Ejercito said Abad was just trying to justify “technical malversation.”
Ejercito said Malacanang should have just respected both the Supreme Court and Congress by endorsing to the legislature the appropriate measure that would have funded the programs now being funded by DAP.
“You are just justifying technical malversation,” Ejercito said.
Abad and several cabinet members appeared before the Senate finance committee Thursday morning for a hearing on the DAP, parts of which had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Abad rattled off what he called the benefits of the DAP, saying this mechanism allowed the government to access more funds for public spending programs for infrastructure and social services. With DAP, Abad said, there was more money for the priority programs of the government without having to raise additional taxes.
“We have made unprecedented progress in key priorities,” Abad said.
To this, Ejercito reminded Abad that a declaration of good intentions is not enough. “One cannot juggle funds no matter how good the intention is,” Ejercito said.
For his part, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV seemed more sympathetic to Abad, asking him whether the Supreme Court had accused anyone in the administration of pocketing public funds.
“Sinabi ba ng Supreme Court na meron kayong ninakaw?” Trillanes asked Abad. Abad said no.
Trillanes said it was clear that the Aquino administration must come up with a better communications plan to fight “the better communications plan of the other side.”
At the same time Abad said that many DAP projects are now in limbo since the Supreme Court only found some parts of the project as unconstitutional.
Senator Francis Escudero asked Abad if the Department of Budget and Management would release funds for an ongoing DAP project if the contractor demands payment.
Abad said they would have to ask advise from their legal counsels on the matter.
He said the instruction of the President on the issue was this: “Kung hindi kayo sigurado, huwag ninyong galawin ang proyekto.”