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The Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is legal, nothing new, and has been practiced by previous administrations as far back as that of former President Corazon Aquino to increase the budget, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad insisted before the Senate finance committee on Thursday.
“Under the leadership of then-President Cory Aquino, the use of savings took the form of the imposition of reserves, where allocations were withheld because of a fiscal deficit; the practice was thus named the Reserve Control Account,” Abad said during the committee hearing on the controversial DAP.
Such manner of using savings was continued by the administrations of then-Presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada, while the practice was called the "use of Overall Savings" during the Arroyo administration, he said.
“The practice of generating and using savings bore different names, because each administration faced its own unique set of economic and fiscal challenges,” Abad noted.
The disbursement program has been presented to the Senate finance committee as early as October 2011, when the administration of President Benigno Aquino Jr. first implemented DAP as a viable solution for accelerating government expenditures, he said.
“We knew that this could be done. After all, the generation and use of savings – of which DAP is an example – is not a new practice,” he said.
The Budget chief said cross-border transfers from one branch of government to another or to fiscally autonomous agencies were also not uncommon. Over the last 22 years, savings were used to augment the budgets of Congress, the Judiciary, and other Constitutional bodies independent from all three branches of government, he said.
The Aquino administration did not implement DAP in 2011 secretly, as claimed by other sectors, Abad noted.
“When DAP finally began making headlines in 2013, we were frequently told that nobody had heard of it. Some groups even implied that the program had been deliberately kept under wraps so that the DBM could avoid the burden of accountability.
"This is ridiculous,” he said.
The Budget and Management Department released a statement announcing the implementation of DAP, and was launched covered by the major broadsheets, Abad said.
Announcements on the fund releases through DAP were also made, including those for ARMM infrastructure projects, the procurement of Doppler radars for accurate weather forecasting, and the rehabilitation of agri-fishery infrastructure damaged by calamities, he added.
Other Cabinet members were also present during the hearing.
They were Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, 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. – VS, GMA News