'Time for DAP critics to speak before Senate'

by Marvin Sy, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 27 2014 12:18 PM | Updated as of Jul 27 2014 08:18 PM

MANILA - It should now be the turn of critics of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to say their piece before the Senate after pro-DAP officials dominated last Thursday’s hearing on the controversial program, Sen. Nancy Binay said yesterday.

Binay, who stood out during the hearing for her impassioned questioning of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad as a member of the Senate minority bloc, said that she would like to hear the views of DAP critics like former budget chief Benjamin Diokno and former national treasurer Leonor Briones.

Diokno and Briones both served under the administration of former President and now Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada.

“It would be good to have secretaries Briones and Diokno in the next hearing so that they can explain why the DAP was not similar to what was done in the past administrations,” Binay said over dwIZ.

Briones argued that the implementation of the DAP was illegal and tantamount to the executive branch’s usurping the power of Congress over the purse.

Diokno said the administration was misleading the public when it compared the DAP to the Reserve Control Account used by the previous administrations.

Binay said that she intends to get more details about the implementation of the DAP, specifically the benefits the country was supposed to have derived from the program.

According to Binay, only a handful of projects were taken up during last Thursday’s hearing, out of the 116 total that were supposedly funded under the DAP.

Almost all of the members of the President’s Cabinet were present during last Thursday’s hearing in a show of support for Abad, who was the principal resource person.

Critics of the administration noted that the controversial program was hardly scrutinized during last Thursday’s hearing by the committee on finance, since most of the senators present were allies of the President.

She cited various projects shelved by the administration for various reasons, the budgets for which were pooled as savings and used for the DAP.

“What’s the point of having strict budget deliberations only to have projects withdrawn halfway through completion and have their budget reallocated for other programs?” Binay said.

“It seems that the projects that were approved by Congress were disregarded because these were not going to be implemented by the agencies anyway,” she added.

She noted during the hearing that many of the projects implemented under the DAP were hard to justify as priority projects. – With Paolo Romero, Janvic Mateo