Jul 132014
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said he will not withdraw his support for the impeachment suit against President Benigno Aquino III that another militant lawmaker plans to file soon even after a newspaper report identified him as one of the recipients of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program.

In an interview with GMA News Online Thursday, Colmenares also said he will also continue to call for the abolition of pork barrel and oppose the inclusion of any kind of lump sum funds in the 2015 national budget.

“If the intention of Malacañang is to intimidate me [with the report], they’re wrong. I’m still against pork barrel. Wala naman akong itinatago… I will still endorse the impeachment complaint against PNoy once it’s filed,” he said.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon earlier said his group and other youth organizations will soon file an impeachment suit against Aquino over the implementation of DAP, parts of which the Supreme Court recently declared unconstitutional.

A Philippine Daily Inquirer report published on June 9 named Colmenares as one of the House members who received P25 million from the DAP in two installments over a period of two years beginning 2012.

According to the report, some of the projects the lawmaker implemented using his DAP allocation were farm-to-market roads in Pampanga worth P10 million, a multi-purpose hall in Aurora worth P1 million and two-classroom buildings in Iloilo worth P1.8 million.

Colmenares also gave subsidies to select LGUs worth a total of P6.35 million and to public healthcare institutions such as the Philippine General Hospital, National Kidney Transplant Institute and Lung Center of the Philippines amounting to P1.65 million.

The head of the House Makabayan bloc did not deny he endorsed the projects. He, however, said he was unaware they will be financed by money from DAP.

“We did not know then that the funds came from DAP. We were only told that the money came from what they called ‘continuing appropriations.’”

P10M milk feeding project

For Colmenares, the revelation he received funds from DAP did not mean he was no longer credible to assail the program for being “unconstitutional and illegal.”

As proof of his opposition to DAP, the lawmaker said he immediately withdrew the endorsement he gave for certain projects such as a P10 million milk feeding program after he suspected the funds came from the controversial program.

A letter Colmenares sent to the administrator of National Dairy Authority (NDA) on October 14, 2013 read: “Considering our principled position against the constitutionality of DAP, we would like to withdraw our role in endorsing the project to NDA for funding support. While indeed, the feeding program will substantially help many of our malnourished children in the communities, we feel that sourcing it from the DAP will violate the Constitution and we will not want to have any role in facilitating the same.”

“Hindi ba ang real test ng integrity ay ‘yung nag-withdraw na ako ng endorsement for the project noong nag-suspetsa akong galing yung pondo sa DAP? Mas masama ‘yung alam mo nang galing yung pera sa DAP, itinuloy mo pa rin yung paggamit sa pondo, parang si Presidente Aquino,” Colmenares said.

The senior deputy minority leader said he is ready to face any investigation that may be launched on DAP because he can account for all the projects that were funded by his P25 million allocation.

He challenged Malacañang to release the list of all lawmakers who received DAP and all the projects funded by the program so the public will know how the funds were spent. Funds from DAP are estimated to be anywhere between P140 billion and P177 billion.

“Ang dare namin sa Malacañang, imbestigahan itong DAP at sabihin kung saan napunta yung pera. Lahat na ng mga lawmakers paimbestigahan, kasama na kami (Makabayan bloc), para magkaalaman na kung mayroon bang ghost projects na napondohan ng DAP… We’re very sure maraming bilyon ang nawaldas diyan,” he said.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said last week “there was no doubt” that 91 percent of funds from DAP was properly spent by the executive branch.

Malacañang, however, said it will account for all the funds that went to DAP after it has exhausted all legal remedies concerning the Supreme Court ruling. — BM, GMA News

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