Nov 072013

The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday moved to November 19 the oral arguments on the constitutionality of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

“Urgent Advisory: oral argument in the consolidated #DAP cases is reset from (November) 11 to (November) 19 at 2 PM,” the SC Public Information Office tweeted.
The SC initially scheduled the oral arguments on October 22, had it reset to November 19 and moved the same to November 11.

As of Thursday, the high court has received nine petitions questioning the DAP’s constitutionality especially as it was realigned without the Congress’ approval.

The DAP received flack after Senator Jinggoy Estrada bared that he and other senators who voted to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona in May last year received P50 million each in additional funds months after the impeachment trial.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad later admitted that the funds came from the DAP, but maintained these were not bribes or incentives for senators. He said the DAP fund, which is basically realigned savings, was released to address sluggish government spending in 2011.

Estrada, along with Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., is facing a plunder complaint over the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam supposedly masterminded by trader Janet Lim-Napoles. All three seantors have denied being involved in the alleged anomaly.

In a televised address last week, President Benigno Aquino III criticized “thieves” who equated the DAP with the pork barrel scam, adding that his critics were diverting the public’s attention and smearing his administration. Marc Jayson Cayabyab/RSJ, GMA News

Nov 072013
SolGen asks SC to junk DAP cases for lack of merit

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), representing the Aquino administration, on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to junk all cases filed against the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) for lack of merit.   In a 41-page comment, the OSG asked the high court to dismiss all petitions against DAP for “lack of merit” and deny the application for a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction. “The burden is on the petitioners to establish their case and prove grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondents [but] the petitions, mostly anchored on newspaper clippings and media reports, are miserably lacking on the allegations of facts that would support a claim of grave abuse of discretion,” it said. “It is incomprehensible, therefore, given the insufficiency and uncertainty of facts, how petitioners can allege grave abuse of discretion,” it added. Last week, parties in at least eight petitions challenging DAP’s legality agreed to answer six main questions during oral arguments before the SC on Nov. 11. Among these questions are on the nature of the DAP, whether it is a fund or a program, and the legal basis for its creation. In its comment, the OSG said DAP is “neither a fund nor an appropriation but a program or an administrative system of prioritizing spending.” “As is obvious from its name, it is a program for accelerating disbursements. What is only unstated in the title of the program—DAP—is that the sources of funds are from, first, the legitimately-generated savings Read More …

Nov 022013
Palace downplays Dec 6 'deadline' to get rid of 'pork'

Malacañang on Saturday downplayed a so-called Dec. 6 deadline for President Benigno Aquino to get rid of discretionary or “pork” funds, saying he and his administration will push the proper things at the “correct time.” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also said the Palace will continue answering questions on the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program, which Palace critics had dubbed as another form of pork barrel funds. “The president and the administration will push for the correct things at the correct time,” she said on government-run dzRB radio. She was referring to the Dec. 6 deadline by the #ScrapPork Network for Aquino to “destroy the barrier” that blocks his supposed “straight path.” The Dec. 6 date comes 100 days after a massive anti-pork gathering at the Luneta in Manila last Aug. 26. Organizers hinted at gatherings by anti-pork advocates on that day. Valte said the Department of Justice already filed plunder cases against personalities linked to the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam involving the use of fake non-government organizations to siphon funds from lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations. She said the DOJ is set to file charges against another batch of personalities linked to the mess. “The instructions of the president would be to make sure (the cases) will stand scrutiny and (lead to) a conviction,” she added. Meanwhile, Valte said the government will continue “answering” questions on the controversial DAP, which some had branded as another form of pork barrel as it gives lawmakers leeway to identify what projects to Read More …

Oct 102013
DAP funding Coast Guard patrols in disputed waters

By Tina G. SantosPhilippine Daily Inquirer 8:21 pm | Thursday, October 10th, 2013 INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — The controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program has been paying for Philippine Coast Guard patrols at Bajo de Masinloc off Zambales province, as well as in other disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said Thursday. “We looked through our records and the discussion on the DAP. There were funds released to the PCG in September 2012. Forty-four million [pesos] was released as additional MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses) for the patrol operations at Bajo de Masinloc,” said Abaya, who was guest of honor at the PCG’s 112th anniversary celebration on Thursday. “Likewise, P105 million was allocated for the capability requirements of PCG operations in the West Philippine Sea,” he added. The Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Panatag Shoal and internationally as Scarborough Shoal, is at the center of a territorial dispute between the Philippines and China, with the Philippines bringing the dispute to a United Nations tribunal for arbitration. Concrete blocks that could be used to anchor construction posts had been sighted at the shoal recently. Last year, Chinese fishing vessels were discovered illegally poaching endemic Philippine marine species in its waters. A standoff ensued when Philippine authorities were prevented from apprehending the fishermen by Chinese navy ships that blocked them. China has also been claiming nearly all of the South China Sea, parts of which the Philippines calls the West Philippine Read More …

Oct 082013
DND says it received over P600M from DAP

The Department of National Defense (DND) has received over P600 million from the Aquino administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), the constitutionality of which is being challenged before the Supreme Court. In a statement Tuesday, the DND said the P665.6 million it received from 2011 to 2012 were used for the programs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, such as the procurement of equipment and spare parts, on-base housing, and the repair, renovation and rehabilitation of different facilities, the department said in a statement. Bulk of the funds for AFP went to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the Presidential Security Group (PSG), according to the statement. The air force used its P397.3 million DAP funds for on-base housing facilities and the procurement of communication equipment. The funds were also used for various PAF’s projects such as the allocation of resources for search and rescue requirements, base facilities and equipment, and the repair, renovation and rehabilitation of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) facilities in Lipa, Batangas. Meanwhile, the PSG got P248.3 million for its communication enhancement project — the repair of buildings and barracks, the upgrade of communication equipment to digital from analog, and the installation of CCTV in the Malacañang complex. The DAP, which allows the Department of Budget and Management to pool government savings for other purposes, was said to be the source of the P50 million given to some senators last year after the Senate impeachment court voted to convict then-Chief Justice Renato Corona. — Read More …

Oct 082013
Joker Arroyo says PNoy's troubles caused by 'staff indolence'

A “word war” is brewing between former Senator Joker Arroyo and President Benigno Aquino III’s spokespersons after the former accused the latter of causing problems in Malacañang due to “indolence.” In a statement Tuesday, Arroyo countered presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda’s statement that he did not react to irregularities during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. “Part of the problem in Malacañang is the indolence of spokespersons. They play things by the ear and pass it off as facts,” he said. Arroyo pointed out how he co-chaired a Senate probe on the alleged fertilizer fund scam during the Arroyo presidency. He said he also criticized the supposedly anomalous NBN-ZTE deal. The ex-lawmaker also told Aquino’s spokespersons to check records first before making statements. “Staff indolence, that’s why the President gets into trouble for missteps that are not his,” Arroyo said. “Graftbuster kuno” In response, Lacierda said indolent is “a good adjective to describe” Arroyo’s stint as a “graftbuster kuno.” “What is an undeniable fact is that for all his years as a senator during GMA’s term, where was he in the fight against corruption? The dragon was asleep all those years,” he said in a text message to GMA News Online. “Noong panahon ni GMA, kung bad ka, ok lang.  That’s what he should be explaining instead of attacking Sec. Butch Abad or the spokespersons,” he added. On Monday, Lacierda said that he finds it “weird” that Arroyo is “talking only now” about supposed irregularities in government, particularly against the Read More …

Oct 032013
Economic stimulus? Honestly?

It is called the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP. Calling DAP an economic stimulus seems like an afterthought concocted by a devious bureaucrat to justify the use of taxpayer money in less than honorable ways. If this happened during Ate Glue’s watch, I wouldn’t have been surprised. That it happened under P-Noy’s Daang Matuwid makes it a painful betrayal of the public trust. I don’t buy the DBM’s justification of its existence as a means to get the economy moving at a time when the government agencies like DOTC couldn’t get their projects going. It is difficult to understand why, as Sec. Abad gives the impression, government agencies can move fast when funded by DAP but exhibit poor absorptive capacity with their regular budgets. The better way to stimulate the economy is to get the infrastructure agencies to move their projects. The jobs created as well as the benefits the infra projects will bring will certainly boost the economy… legally and morally. It is noteworthy we only heard of how DAP actually works the past few days. We only found out because Jinggoy Estrada revealed it as his defense on the pork issue. There were press releases and news reports in the Official Gazette on it but said nothing about asking senators to nominate projects, in the case of Sen. Frank Drilon, P100 million worth. I am glad to note that I am not the only one originally madly supportive of P-Noy who does not buy this DAP story. Indeed, Read More …