MANILA, Philippines – “We acted in good faith” is one of the arguments that Malacañang has repeatedly offered after the Supreme Court struck down parts of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional.
But how can “good faith” be proven? In a speech before the Rotary Club of Manila Tuesday, July 10, Vice President Jejomar Binay said a “good starting point” would be first, to disclose the list of projects funded under DAP, and second, to subject the savings scheme to an “independent audit.”
“This is after all, consistent with the tenets of full transparency that is the cornerstone of the Aquino administration and I do hope my colleagues will reconsider a reported decision to withhold the release of the so-called DAP list. Full disclosure, as I have said, is a good starting point,” Binay said.
“An independent audit of the DAP funds, as proposed by some sectors, would be another. And this should be done as soon as possible,” he added.
On the matter of accountability over DAP, Binay, a lawyer himself, said the SC decision, as well as separate concurring opinions are “rather clear, if not brutally frank” on the issue.
“There is no room to speculate or look for hidden clues in the decision of the high court,” he said.
The SC decision declaring as unconstitutional parts of DAP – an economic stimulus program designed to transfer funds from slow-disbursing projects to fast-disbursing ones – has triggered calls for the impeachment of President Benigno Aquino III and the resignation of Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad Jr.
‘Continued vigilance’ on PDAF scam
Binay does not support moves to impeach Aquino. His party, the United Nationalist Alliance, has, however, remained firm on its call to sack Abad and charge him with plunder. Binay, for his part, refused to take a stand on the resignation issue.
“Si Butch Abad lang po makakasagot noon (Only Butch Abad can answer that),” Binay told reporters in an ambush interview.
Petitioners who have filed a plunder complaint against Abad said the SC decision shows Abad “systematically misappropriated, converted, misused, and malversed public funds.” Malacañang, however, argues that there must be proof that the funds under DAP were misused for the case to prosper.
Asked whether he believes the DAP decision could trigger a political crisis for the Aquino administration, Binay said: “Depende kung ano ang mangyayari sa mga susunod na araw. Tingnan natin kung tama ang mga gagawin, hindi magkakaroon ng krisis.”
(It depends on what will happen in the next few days. Let’s see if they will do the right thing, there will be no crisis.
While public attention is on DAP, Binay said there must also be “continued vigilance” on the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam, where lawmakers have been accused of using bogus non-governmental organizations to plunder public funds.
“It is essential that we see this cleansing of government to its just conclusion – public service without taint of self-interest, without a tinge of deception and political persecution,” Binay said.
Three senators are in jail over the PDAF scam – Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada. Binay is a known ally of Estrada and his father, incumbent Manila Mayor and former president Joseph Estrada. He was the running mate of the elder Estrada in the 2010 presidential elections.
Palace still collating DAP projects
As of Thursday, July 10, the executive branch is still collating the full list of DAP projects which Malacañang has “committed” to release, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a news briefing.
“We will be releasing the list of projects at the appropriate time,” Lacierda said, adding that the list would also provide the status of each project.
He said those who cannot wait for the Palace list can ask Cabinet secretaries whose agencies had projects funded out of the DAP, since some of them have given this information such as Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman. Some senators have also taken the same action.
“Nobody is stopping the Cabinet secretaries from informing the public what those projects are, and the funds for it….They would be more than glad to tell you and they have been doing that,” Lacierda said. – Rappler.com
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