MANILA - The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the number of Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) does not indicate the reach of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The budget department also said the SAROs do not mean the lawmakers received cash.
"No cash nor projects are given to legislators. Instead, what lawmakers only do is nominate projects from a list of priorities that will benefit their constituents or districts. The funds for these projects are then released to and implemented by national agencies," the DBM Public Information Unit explained.
The DBM was reacting to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report that said lawmakers account for 90 percent of the SAROs from the DAP. The report went on to say that the individual SAROs were worth between P95,000 and P10 million.
"Judging the DAP by these figures is misleading to the public. When the DBM issues SAROs to implementing agencies for legislator-backed projects, that usually involves several SAROs all at once,” the DBM said.
It said each allocation per legislator is used for different projects, thus different SAROs. "These include releases to State Colleges and Universities for scholarship grants, hospitals for medical assistance, and local governments for local infrastructure projects, among others."
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad also said lawmakers use their allocation for several projects to respond to the different needs of their constituents.
"It's not uncommon for lawmakers to use their respective allocations for several projects under various implementing agencies. The number of projects supported by a single allocation can easily go up to around 20 projects per legislator, and if you multiply that by the number of House Representatives, you will naturally arrive at a large figure," Abad said.
The DBM did not confirm nor deny, however, if there were indeed 900 SAROs given to lawmakers.
Abad, who has been criticized for his lack of transparency in the DAP accounting, said a detailed list would soon be available.
"Most of the funds released through DAP were in fact made to National Government departments. After all, we were looking at accelerating government disbursements, and we could do that by supporting fast-moving and high-impact projects, many of which are under national agencies. The list we will soon be releasing will show just that," Abad claimed.