MANILA - Budget Secretary Butch Abad on Thursday said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) received an additional funding of P4.1 billion in 2012 for the expenses for the 2013 midterm elections.
During the Senate hearing on the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), Abad said the Comelec requested the money for their acquired precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, which would be used for the May 2013 polls.
He said the Comelec needed the money for collateral software support and maintenance, increase in traveling, training and seminar expenses, warehousing and configuration facilities for PCOS machines, synchronization of the national and local elections, software licences, and additional requirements for overseas absentee voting.
Senator Nancy Binay, however, pointed out that the said appropriation was not included in the Department of Budget and Management's (DBM) list of 116 projects funded by the P144 billion DAP.
"Kung hindi siya DAP, saan galing yung pera?" Binay asked Abad.
Abad then explained to the Senate that not all pooled savings fall under the DAP. This means that there are some projects which are funded by the savings outside of the DAP.
"Yung savings na umaabot ng P237 [billion] ang napunta lang sa DAP projects P144 [billion]. So posibleng outside of the P144 may napondohan rin," he said.
Binay asked, "Eh so anong tawag dun? We're talking about another list of projects na hindi DAP pero ginamitan ng savings."
"Regular savings lang ng gobyerno yun," Abad said.
The budget chief further explained that the Comelec's request for additional funding did not make it on time to the initial list of DAP projects submitted for approval of the President, which is why it was not listed in the 116 projects funded by the DAP.
However, due to the urgency of the request, Abad said they still decided to give the poll body additional funds, but from the government's "regular savings."
"Kasi ang pangamba nga ni Chairman [Sixto] Brillantes baka hindi matuloy ang eleksyon," he said.
"Not all of them (pooled savings) are exclusively for DAP. Kaya lang yung DAP, they enjoy preference kasi mabilis aksyunan ng Presidente," Abad explained.
Binay and Senator Francis Escudero then continued to grill Abad, pointing out that even if the money did not came from the DAP, there was still a cross-border of funds, which the Supreme Court (SC) has declared unconstitutional.