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MANILA, Philippines (Updated) – Members of the Makabayan party list bloc in the House of Representatives and leaders of anti-pork barrel groups on Thursday, October 17, asked the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the Aquino administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
In their 29-page petition, they argued that the funds used to implement DAP to curb underspending in 2011 could not be considered savings as defined in the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) National Budget Circular No. 541 and the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2012 since there could be no “savings” in the middle of a fiscal year, especially if the projects have not been completed, discontinued or abandoned.”
Named as respondents are President Benigno Aquino III, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr, and Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad.
The petitioners also contended that there is no law authorizing the withdrawal and transfer of unreleased appropriations and unobligated funds.
DBM’s National Budget Circular No. 541 states that withdrawn funds under DAP could be used not just for existing projects included in the GAA but also for “projects not considered in the 2012 budget but expected to be started or implemented during the current year.”
The petitioners said this does not only “go beyond the the constitutional mandate of Congress” but also “compromises the integrity of Congress’ role” as having the power to appropriate and transfer funds under the Constitution.
The petitioners are:
- Rep Luz Ilagan (Gabriela)
- Rep Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna)
- Rep Terry Ridon (Kabataan)
- Dr. Carol Araullo and Renato Reyes (Bayan)
- UP Professor Judy Taguiwalo (Pagbabago)
- Henri Kahn (Concerned Citizens Movement)
- Manuel Dayrit (Ang Kapatiran Party)
- Vencer Crisostomo (Anakbayan)
- Victor Villanueva (Youth Act Now)
They belong to the #AbolishPork Movement.
According to the Department of Budget and Management, at least P142.23 billion have been spent under DAP, with P83.53 billion spent in 2011 and P58.7 billion in 2012.
DAP was placed at the center of controversy after Sen Jinggoy Estrada revealed in a privilege speech in September that senators were offered P50 million to vote for for the impeachment of former chief justice Renato Corona.
Malacañang denied any such attempts to bribe senators. Abad said the additional fund releases to senators in 2012 were part of DAP.
“The funds accumulated through the DAP and by virtue of NBC 541 is also part of the presidential pork barrel, wherein Aquino has the sole discretion where the funds will go and used for patronage politics. It is very apparent that the DAP was used for patronage politics, if not graft and corruption. A concrete example of this is how P50 million or more was given as “incentive” to senators who voted to impeach Corona, while the rest did not receive any,” the petition said.
The petition is the 6th to be filed before the SC. The first oral arguments on DAP will be heard on November 19. SC moved the date to provide more time to consolidate all petitions. – Rappler.com