Jul 072014
Critics of the Aquino administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) on Monday urged the Commission on Audit (COA) to conduct a special audit on the controversial discretionary fund, which has been declared partly unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

At the same time, they also asked the COA to issue notices of disallowances so the funds found to have been illegally used could be returned to government coffers.

According to the group, the notices of disallowance should put “priority on cross-border transfer of funds committed by the Executive branch.”

The group is composed of Integrated Bar of the Philippines Executive Vice President Rose Reyes; IBP executive director Alice Vidal; Dante Jimenez and Bobot Dinio of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption; Jose Malvar Villegas; Bishop Reuben Abante, secretary general of “Biblemode; Greco Belgica; and lawyer Manuelito Luna.

Last week, the high court sitting en banc had granted their earlier plea and declared some “acts and practices” under the DAP, National Budget Circular No. 541 that authorized DAP, and related issuances, as unconstitutional.

“We call on the COA to immediately conduct a special audit on how the DAP funds were disbursed through the specific acts and practices cited as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court,” according to the group’s latest petition.

The group said the report that would come out of the COA special report should be made public, similar to what has been done with its report on the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel funds last year.

“Without such COA report, investigations done and charges filed will come to nothing. As petitioners and taxpayers we are committed to watch every development regarding this issue,” the group said.

The group also lauded Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales for stating and making public her commitment to “initiate an investigation to see if any crime or offense has been committed by involved public officials.”

The high court had struck down the following aspects of DAP as unconstitutional:

– the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies, and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the General Appropriations Act;

– the cross-border transfers of the savings of the executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the executive; and

– the funding of projects, activities and programs that were not covered by any appropriation in the GAA.

Belgica’s group had earlier issued a petition with the Supreme Court seeking the return of more than P6 billion worth of pork barrel funds allegedly used for ghost projects. —KBK, GMA News

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