MANILA, Philippines - The Senate Committee on Finance has postponed its hearing on the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) – originally scheduled on Monday – in response to main resource person Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s request for more time to prepare.
“May I request that I be allowed to testify on the Disbursement Acceleration Program in the Committee on Finance on Wednesday, 30 July 2014,” Abad said in his letter to committee chairman Francis Escudero.
Abad said he is busy preparing the 2015 national budget, which would be submitted to Congress on July 30. He said he is also helping President Aquino prepare the latter’s budget message in his State of the Nation Address on July 28.
While he agreed to the request of Abad for a postponement of his scheduled appearance before the Senate panel, Escudero said he is giving the DBM chief only until July 24 to finish his other commitments.
“Yes, we understand that the budget season is here. We considered and thus agreed to postpone the hearing but only until July 24 and with the understanding that Secretary Abad should be there,” Escudero said in response to the DBM chief’s request.
The President earlier spoke on national television to denounce the Supreme Court’s decision declaring certain acts under DAP unconstitutional.
Palace officials, however, have yet to fully identify the recipients of funds released through DAP or how the funds had been used.
Escudero, who was said to have received P99 million in DAP funds in 2012, was among those who have been demanding details about the DAP.
Many of the legislators who were said to have received funding through DAP claimed that they had assumed the additional funds were part of their Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel allocation.
As part of the continuing protest against DAP, militant workers belonging to the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) marched to Mendiola yesterday to demand a thorough audit of funds released through DAP.
“It is the height of arrogance for Aquino to think that Filipinos will let him off the hook in relation to the DAP. On the contrary, we want a full, immediate and transparent audit of the program’s funds,” KMU chairman chair Elmer Labog said.
The rallyists burned an enlarged yellow ribbon to express their rejection of Aquino’s call for the public to display yellow ribbon as show of support for his position on DAP. – With Mayen Jaymalin