By Azer N. Parrocha
MANILA, (PNA) — The Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is completely different from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
This, according to Senate President Franklin Drilon was the message he wanted to clarify after controversy struck when P900 million worth of funds were allegedly transferred to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs).
“Unlike the PDAF which has been a regular item in the General Appropriations Act, DAP is a program to accelerate government spending which was needed then,” Drilon said in a statement.
He said that this was needed especially during the fiscal year 2011 so that the government would be able “to meet its growth domestic product targets to expand the economy”.
“Funds released under DAP were not budgetary insertions. DAP is a program, not a fund,” he added.
Drilon also recalled in late 2011, that the country’s economic growth was only at 3.6 percent, way below the projected 6-6.5 percent growth.
The government was then prompted to expedite spending through the implementation of the DAP which eventually resulted to an improved spending and the growth in the country’s GDP to 6.8 percent in 2012.
He reiterated that DAP funds are not cold cash but was merely a list of infrastructure projects recommended by legislators and local government officials to be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways.
“We were only asked to list down a number of projects which were immediately implementable at that time in order to accelerate government spending and boost the economy,” Drilon said.
He said that he used his P100 million DAP funds for the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center.
Drilon said that President Benigno Aquino III had the constitutional power to realign funds in order to meet the government’s spending target.
“DAP is based on the President’s constitutional power to realign funds. The same power is also granted to the Chief Justice, and heads of all Constitutional and Fiscal Autonomy Group (CFAG),” Drilon said in a statement.
CFAG includes the Judiciary, Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit, Commission on Elections and the Office of the Ombudsman.
Drilon said that realigning funds has been exercised by all past presidents, chief justices, Comelec chairmen, etc. as it was “valid and legal”.
“The funds are not realigned to the legislature, but from one budget item to another in the same branch,” he added. “What is prohibited is transfer of funds from one branch of government to another.”