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Miriam, Joker: Source of extra funds given to senators after Corona conviction 'illegal'

Former Senator Joker Arroyo and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Tuesday questioned the legality of the source of additional funds supposedly given to senators after former Chief Justice Renato Corona's conviction in May last year.

At a press briefing, Arroyo said the Department of Budget and Management's creation of the disbursement acceleration plan (DAP) is a "crime" because it was not authorized by law.

"The disbursements from the DAP are illegal. The DBM has no business forming this DAP. They cannot do that without a supporting law. To disburse that, they must have authority from Congress," Arroyo said.

In a separate statement, Santiago meanwhile said that the DAP is illegal because it was not included in the 2011 or the 2012 national budgets, and was not authorized by Congress.

Santiago added that the DAP violates the constitutional provision that states: “No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; however, 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.”

On Saturday, DBM Secretary Florencio Abad said in a statement that discretionary funds under the government's DAP, ranging from P50 million to P100 million, were released to senators months after Corona was convicted by the Senate impeachment court.

Abad issued the statement three days after Senator Jinggoy Estrada revealed in a privilege speech that P50 million in additional funds were released to senators who voted in favor of Corona's conviction.

Abad explained that the DAP releases were meant "to ramp up spending and help accelerate economic expansion." He added that attributing the funds to Corona's conviction is "inaccurate at best and irresponsible at worst."

In 2011, the official Philippine government gazette said DAP involves P72.11 billion "sourced from pooled savings from unused appropriations in 2010 and 2011, windfall revenue from government-owned and -controlled corporations dividends, and realignments within agencies in favour of fast-disbursing projects." --KG, GMA News