Abad: COA car not funded by DAP
MANILA, Philippines – Budget Secretary Florencio Abad clarified that funds used to buy cars of the Commission on Audit (COA) did not come from the government’s controversial spending program.
Abad told reporters that he talked to COA Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan and found out that the agency bought service vehicles using its own savings, and not funds from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), as Tan initially said.
“I checked with her. I told her, 'We did not give you money for cars, only for computers and litigators. There was no car involved,'” Abad told reporters on the sidelines of a Senate finance committee hearing on Thursday, November 28.
Abad said only the COA’s computerization program was funded by the DAP.
He said the Constitution allows the COA to use its savings, and the agency need not ask permission from his department.
Abad was responding to the admission Tan made during the Senate deliberations on the COA budget last Monday.
Under questioning from Senator Jinggoy Estrada, Tan admitted that money from the DAP was used to buy service vehicles and computers, and to hire IT and litigation experts as consultants. She said the total money COA got from DAP was P143 million. Tan said she did not request that the funds come from the DAP.
“When we made the request earlier on in my term, I think DAP hadn’t existed yet. Our request was back in 2011,” Tan told Estrada.
Estrada used Tan’s admission to criticize Abad and his explanation on the use and purpose of the DAP, now the subject of a Supreme Court case.
The senator quoted Abad’s press release saying that the DAP was designed to ramp up spending and help accelerate economic expansion. “Releases from DAP were used for quick-moving projects that support the Aquino administration’s socio-economic development platform.”
The senator said, “So isa pala sa project ng administration ay pagbili ng kotse to ramp up spending? Isa pala sa quick-moving project na sabi ni Secretary Abad ay pambili ng kotse?”
(So one of the administration’s projects to ramp up spending is to buy a car? One of the quick-moving projects that Secretary Abad is referring to is purchasing a car?)
In the interview Thursday, Abad stood by the legality of the DAP. He said the government will continue to defend its case when oral arguments at the Supreme Court resume on December 10.
“We’ve always said it’s not just legal but it’s necessary. Look at the effects to the economy now. You must remember this was not the first time this was done. This was done from [the presidencies of Fidel] Ramos, [Joseph Estrada], [Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo]. They just had different names before,” Abad said.
The Supreme Court is deliberating on the legality of the DAP after petitioners and legal experts said it is unconstitutional because it was not included in the budget and undermined congressional power over the purse. Critics called it “an invention of the budget department” and “a budget within the budget.”
The controversy arose when Estrada said in a privilege speech in September that senators who voted to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona got P50 million each after the impeachment trial in 2012.
Abad later admitted that 20 senators indeed got the money in late 2012 and early 2013, but denied the amount was a bribe. He said it came from the DAP to help boost the economy. – Rappler.com
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