Senators deny requesting DAP releases for DOST
MANILA, Philippines - Two senators denied they requested releases for the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) from the government's controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
On Tuesday, October 8, Senator Pia Cayetano and former lawmaker Panfilo Lacson both said contrary to DOST Secretary Mario Montejo's claims, they did not request for funding for his agency.
Earlier, Montejo said the DOST received over P40 million from both Cayetano and Lacson for its malnutrition and breastfeeding initiatives under the agency's Food and Nutrition Research Institute through DAP.
According to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), DAP – mainly sourced from savings or unreleased General Appropriation Act items, as well as realignment and unprogrammed funds – was designed to ramp up spending and help accelerate economic expansion.
Critics however have called the mechanism illegal and improper, and have asked for its abolition.
The DAP was exposed following claims by opposition Senator Jinggoy Estrada that senators received at least P50 million each after the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, convicted then Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.
In a statement, Cayetano denied she authorized the release of P10 million for the said program from the DAP — which she said she didn't even know existed.
“I did not request nor did I authorize the release of funds under the DAP scheme to the Department of Science and Technology,” she said.
Cayetano explained she "proposed amendments in the amount of P10 million to the DOST budget under the 2012 General Appropriations Bill" for training and scholarships, facilities and research and development.
But the DOST realigned the P10 million to its malnutrition program under DAP, as confirmed by the DBM. Cayetano said she was not told of the realignment.
Meanwhile, Lacson held a press conference also on Tuesday to explain the P30 million issued to DOST that allegedly came from him.
Like Cayetano, he said the P30 million allotted to DOST's nutrition program was a realignment he proposed "by way of amendment… from appropriations of another agency."
"It's not true there was a DAP allocated to me or that the executive branch let me use DAP. I looked for funds for DOST's nutrition program (from other agencies)," he said.
Lacson said it is "very possible" the DBM sourced the P30 million from DAP even if he introduced it as an amendment, which also happened to requests made by another ex-senator, Joker Arroyo.
The former senator, who has not used his pork barrel allocation, admitted he was bothered by the linking of his name to DAP, and urged the DBM to clarify the source of the funds used to so as not to "confuse the issue."
The DBM said only 9% of total DAP releases from October 2011 to Oct 1, 2013 — or P12B — was released to projects identified by legislators. Releases to lawmakers have been temporarily suspended following controversy over the misuse of government funds.
It has yet to release a full list detailing which projects proposed by lawmakers were funded by DAP. - Rappler.com
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