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DAP is PNoy's 'pork', former budget chief Diokno says

October 2, 2013 10:19pm
Former budget secretary Benjamin Diokno said Wednesday that President Benigno Aquino II created his own pork barrel by forming the Development Acceleration Program (DAP) fund and realigning savings to non-existent budget items in the General Appropriations Act without the approval of Congress.

In a report aired on GMA News'  “24 Oras,” Diokno explained that the DAP may be considered as Aquino’s own pork since he controls where the money will be spent.

The P72 billion fund came under scrutiny after allegations surfaced that it was used by Aquino as a reward for lawmakers to impeach former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada said in a privilege speech last week that senators who voted to Corona received P50 million in additional funds. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. admitted days later that House representatives also got P10 million each after Corona was ousted but denied the amount was a bribe.

Budget secretary Florencio Abad insisted Wednesday, however, that the DAP was never tapped by the administration for "bribes" to lawmakers to oust Corona in May last year.

In a statement, the Department of Budget Management (DBM) said that the DAP was created as a "spending mechanism…  to ramp up expenditures in the wake of sluggish spending."

But Diokno said Aquino’s intent for creating the DAP might have been political instead of economic.

“[The executive branch] created a budget within the budget para makapagbigay sila ng amount [sa lawmakers]. Sa tingin ko pulitika yung reason doon kasi sila (executive) ang namimili kung sino ang makakatanggap [ng pera],” he said.

Constitutional expert Father Joaquin Bernas said the creation of the DAP to fund new budget items is unconstitutional because the law limits the president to realign savings only in existing budget items.

Article 6, Section 25 of the Constitution states that “the President… may, by law be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations.”

“The word used in the law is ‘to augment savings.’ This means that that there are already items which can be augmented and this also means that you cannot create new items. If you create new items, it means you’re already making an appropriation. That can be done only by Congress,” he said.

Diokno said his own scrutiny of the DAP revealed that it was used to fund new budget items such as the following:
  • P750 million assistance to Quezon province
  • P6.5 billion assistance for LGUs
  • P8.6 billion assistance to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)
  • P1.8 billion assistance to the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)

Bernas said Aquino’s creation of DAP may be considered as a basis for impeachment, but he expressed doubt that any attempt to oust the President will succeed.

Pwede rin [maging ground yun for impeachment]. Pero mahirap ang impeachment lalo na dahil kontrolado ni PNoy ang Congress,” he said.  - XA/ELR, GMA News



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