Palace: DAP is not like PDAF

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2014 06:26 PM

MANILA - Malacañang insists the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is not the same as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which was also declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC).

"Linawin lang natin: Iba po ang PDAF sa DAP. Iyong PDAF ay hinatulang unconstitutional at hinatulang ito ay isang pork barrel fund. Hindi po ganoon ang aming posisyon hinggil sa Disbursement Acceleration Program. Sa amin pong pananaw at ang aming posisyon ay hindi pareho yung PDAF sa DAP. Iyan po ay nilinaw ng ating Pangulo noon pang Oktubre," Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said Tuesday.

In his October 2013 speech, President Benigno Aquino III maintained that DAP is an economic stimulus fund that was neither plundered nor squandered.

Coloma affirmed this today. "Ang amin pong nilahad sa Supreme Court, at ito rin ay kanilang in-acknowledge sa kanilang desisyon, ay yung Disbursement Acceleration Program ay nilunsad bilang isang stimulus fund o stimulus program to accelerate the pace of economic growth."

"At sa kanilang pagpapasya, ito naman ay kinilala ng korte. Binanggit ko na ito sa aking pahayag nung nakaraang linggo that the court affirmed our position that the DAP performed that function. Ngayon, kung merong nagpapahayag ng ibang pananaw, ito naman ay bahagi na siguro ng ating democratic space," he said.

The DAP became controversial after it was alleged that parts of the fund were used to fund projects of lawmakers at the height of the Corona impeachment trial.

The DAP also reportedly made its way to bogus projects of Janet Lim Napoles, alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam. The Napoles link of the DAP is now being probed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), which incidentally also got DAP funds.

Coloma said, "Well, according to the Secretary of Justice, the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) has already started looking into the alleged misuse of DAP allocations and we will await the findings of the NBI. Siyempre, katulad ng batayang prinsipyo natin, yung kongkretong ebidensiya lamang ang magiging batayan ng pagkilos."

Coloma refused to address why DAP was spent on projects that some critics do not believe have an impact on the economy, like expenditures on the West Philippine Sea and the Presidential Security Group.

"Yung general terms na pinag-uusapan natin dito is the overall proposition that the Disbursement Acceleration Program was intended to be a stimulus program to pump-prime the economy and to accelerate the pace of economic growth. So yon ang paniwala doon sa paglulunsad ng mga programs, activities, and projects that were included in DAP," he said.

"At ngayon nga, hinihingi ko yung pag-unawa ninyo na sa halip na talakayin yung partikular na paninindigan ng oposisyon or ibang mga pangkat hinggil dito, nais naming mag-focus na lang muna doon sa mismong findings of the court as embodied in its decision. Karamihan naman o halos lahat diyan sa mga inuungkat na yan sa aming pag-unawa ay hindi naman tinake up ng court mismo," he added.

He revealed government is keeping an eye on public reaction to the DAP.

"Ang maikling sagot sa iyong tanong ay 'oo.' Sa lahat ng pagkakataon, tumatalima ang ating pamahalaan sa prinsipyong public office is a public trust. At sa kasalukuyan, katulad nung nakaraan at katulad din sa hinaharap, sa lahat ng pagkakataon ay yan ang prinsipyong gumagabay sa pagkilos ng ating pamahalaan—na kinakailangan ay maging bukas at maging hayag at maging accountable. Kilalanin yung pananagutan sa taumbayan dahil mahalaga yung pagtitiwala ng taumbayan at hindi makukuha yung pagtitiwala kung hindi ganap yung pagsiwalat, yung pagpapaliwanag hinggil sa mga mahahalagang isyu na humaharap sa ating bansa."

"Kaya yan ang aming matibay na paniwala at paninindigan. Hindi tayo naglilimita o nangingimi na talakayin ito. Sinasabi lang natin sa kasalukuyan ay meron pang pag-aaral na ginagawa, isinasagawa hinggil mismo doon sa desisyon na yon, kasi meron naman talagang proseso within which pwede pang mag-file ng motion for reconsideration which is one of the legal options being studied," he said.

Coloma sidestepped a question on whether or not members of Aquino's team should be let go over the DAP.

"Yang bagay na yan ay pagpapasyahan ng mga indibidwal na tinutukoy," he said.

He, however, maintained that politics is not what guides the President in his decisions.

"Ang mahalaga sa ating Pangulo ay yung pagtupad niya sa kanyang social contract with the Filipino people, at ang masasabi ko lang, sa pagganap niya sa kanyang tungkulin, hindi pulitika kung hindi yung commitment na tuparin ang pangako sa bayan ang namamayani," Coloma said.

"Hindi rin naman siguro wasto na sabihin na lahat ng naglilingkod kasama ng Pangulo ay kumikilos lamang nang naaayon sa political agenda. Kaya't ang sinasabi natin dito ay yung kabuuang pananaw, that it is not primarily motivated by political considerations but what in the President's view will best enable this administration to fulfill its social contract with the Filipino people," he said.