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DBM clarifies, Joker's extra P47M not from PDAF

MANILA, Philippines – Budget Secretary Florencio Abad clarified on Monday, September 30, that the P47 million that former Senator Joker Arroyo received after the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona was not charged against his pork barrel.

The fund was released under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and was used for infrastructure projects and medical assistance.

The Department of Budget and Management made the clarification after Arroyo protested his being lumped together with senators who appeared to have been rewarded when they each received an additional P50 million worth of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) after voting to convict Corona in May 2012.

Including in the list Arroyo who voted to acquit Corona would have supported Malacañang's claim that the additional releases to other senators were not connected to the impeachment trial of the Chief Justice.

Arroyo said he never used his PDAF as a senator, and that the P47 million he received was from amendments introduced in the 2013 General Appropriation Act (GAA).

Abad agreed with Arroyo and said the fund was not sourced from his PDAF, but insisted it did not come from amendments to the GAA either. It was charged against the DAP.

“Senator Arroyo was correct in saying that these funds were not sourced from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), as he never made use of his PDAF allocations. However, the P47 million that the DBM released for projects endorsed by Sen. Arroyo’s office was charged from DAP,” the statement said.

In a statement released by the DBM on Saturday, September 28, Abad explained the DAP was designed by DBM to ramp up government spending. This is after "sluggish disbursements" caused the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth to slow down to 3.6% in 2011.

Upon Arroyo's request

Abad explained the money was released to Arroyo after he filed a letter of request dated Feb 4, 2013, to the Senate committee on finance. He asked for P47 million for infrastructure projects and medical assistance through amendment introductions to the 2013 GAA.

While his amendments were not approved, Abad said the money was still given to Arroyo by the Executive, which sourced the amount from DAP.

"The amendments introduced by Sen Arroyo to the 2013 GAA were not approved by Congress. Furthermore, the Aquino administration has discouraged Congressional Insertions during budget deliberations, as these insertions or amendments can cut into much-needed funding for other priority programs," Abad said.

“In the case of Sen. Arroyo, however, we noted that the projects identified by his office were properly aligned with President Aquino’s thrust of providing quality education and health services for the country’s underprivileged. We thus accommodated his request by charging the fund source for these projects against DAP."

But Abad denied that the P47 million had anything to do with the Corona impeachment, the same way other DAP releases were "not bribes or incentives for them to convict Corona."

“We want to counter the impression that DAP was misused to serve the administration’s interests, particularly with respect to the impeachment and ouster of the former Chief Justice. This is not true," Abad said.

"The Senators made fund requests for projects that their respective offices identified, and when these requests were amply justified and supported by the proper documentary requirements, we released the funds to the implementing agencies that the Senators themselves identified."

The statement also outlined where the DAP given to Arroyo went to, as based on his letter of request.

It said the P47 million went to the construction of 3 two-storey, 8-classroom buildings in San Agustin, Iriga City, and Baao, Camarines Sur. Each cost P10 million to build, totaling P30 million.

The other P17 million went to soft projects, specifically financial assistance for indigent patients, with P6 million going to the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, P2 million to the Lung Center of the Philippines, and P3 million each to the Philippine Heart Center, Philippine General Hospital, and Bicol Medical Center in Naga. – Rappler.com