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Nancy Binay questions withdrawal of funds for Congress-approved projects in favor of DAP


Senator Nancy Binay on Thursday questioned the executive branch's withdrawal of Congress-approved projects in favor of its Disbursement Acceleration Program  (DAP), the Aquino administration's economic stimulus program that was as declared partially unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

During the Senate finance committee hearing on the DAP, Binay said funds for these projects were declared as government savings and later on reallocated to projects not under the General Appropriations Act.

The Congress-approved projects that lost funds in favor of DAP included the rehabilitation of Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 and some of the country's lighthouses and seaports.

Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the rehabilitation of NAIA 1 was withdrawn after they discovered that there were structural problems that needed to be addressed first.

"Initially kasi akala madali dahil rehabilitation lang, but there were discoveries on structural issue," he said, adding the Department of Public Work and Highways "did not have any expert who can certify a performance-based design, so we procured a consultant who could perform performance-based design."

He said the terminal also needed to undergo stress test.

On the rehabilitation of comfort rooms at NAIA 1, Abaya said it did not push through after they realized that it would be better if they will procure materials in bulk.

“On hindsight, now I see that the DOTC lacked the organization and personnel to push out these problems. It is only now that we have the opportunity to have the resources,” he said.

He further said the construction of lighthouses and seaports were delayed because of some problems with the road right-of-way.

“When we talk to Coast Guard, they said they have problem procuring the land for the lighthouses. Until now they have difficulty with the right-of-way,” said Abaya.

To this Binay asked: “’Yung mga proyekto na sina-submit ay hindi naman pala tunay na napag-aaralan kung may issues pa. Why ask for a budget?"

Senate finance committee chairman Sen. Francis Escudero backed Binay’s observation.

“For each and every project, ngayon kailangan na naming itanong kung kumpleto na ba ang staff work niyan, may program of activity na ba.  It is difficult on the part of Congress to belatedly find out na ililipat sa ibang proyekto na hindi naman nila inaprubahan yung pondo,” he said.

Abaya said he welcomes the scrutiny the Congress will do once the budget hearings start.

Aside from Abaya and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, also present during the hearing were socio-economic planning secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Agrarian Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes, Commission on Higher Education chairperson Patricia Licuanan, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and his deputy Abigail Valte. —KBK, GMA News
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