DAP 101

DAP = Disbursement Acceleration Program
This post is for my reference only
(and maybe for some people who want to know about it).

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On October 12, 2011, President Benigno Aquino III approved the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) upon the recommendation of the Development Budget Coordination Committee and the Cabinet Clusters. The DAP is a stimulus package designed to fast track public spending and push forth economic growth.

It is a government intervention that was needed to accelerate public spending brought by the global economic situation and the financial toll of calamities in that year which makes the key programs and projects move slowly. While the economy has generally improved in the succeeding years, the use of DAP was continued to sustain the pace of public spending as well as economic expansion. Funds used for programs and projects identified through DAP were sourced from savings generated by the government, the realignment of which is subject to the approval of the President; as well as the Unprogrammed Fund that can be tapped when government has windfall revenue collections.

The DAP helped push GDP growth and funded services such as transport, tourism and agriculture infrastructure. In addition, it expanded the delivery of key services to the people, such as the provision of healthcare services and the construction of school buildings. More important, programs and projects funded through DAP supported the administration’s socioeconomic development agenda, as outlined in President Aquino’s Social Contract with the Filipino people.

However, when the official budget deliberation of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) was conducted on August 5, 2013, Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Neri Colmenares asked respondent Florencio Abad about the nature and the constitutionality of DBM Circular 541.

The controversy brought more attention when a senator, Jinggoy Estrada, delivered a privilege speech in September accusing the Aquino administration of giving P50 million each to senators who voted to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona; reports showed that the senators and congressmen received lump sum funds for about P50 million each for the former, and P15 million each for the latter.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad later admitted that P50 million was given to 20 senators but said the money did not come from pork barrel funds but from the DAP. He also said it was not a bribe but was meant as valuable fiscal tool for accelerating government spending, and the delivery of goods and services to the people.

However, the people cannot help but think that the DAP serves to the very questionable political interests of public officials. There are at least eight (8) petitions against the constitutionality of the DAP. Some contends that the General Appropriations Act which provides to augment existing programs and projects of other agencies and Fund priority programs and projects are not considered in the 2012 budget but expected to be started or implemented within the current year. Furthermore, the creation of the DAP to fund new budget items is unconstitutional because the law limits the president to realign savings only in existing budget items. It violates Section 25, Article VI of the Constitution, which prohibits the transfer of appropriations, and the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

On October 30, 2013, Aquino gave a televised speech. He said that the DAP was legal and benefitted disaster preparedness, livelihood and scholarship programs. He said that the money came from savings used for “quick-moving projects that directly supported the Aquino administration’s socio-economic development platform.”

Like any funds, the DAP is allocated and disbursed, usually lump sum amounts, under the sole discretion of the head of governmental agency or department, i.e. the President. What transforms a fund into DAP or pork is the entitlement to choose the projects, the amounts and their beneficiaries. What makes the DAP anomalous is that it can be a great source of graft and corruption, it distorts budgetary needs and processes, and it becomes a patronage politics where public funds are given to allies and voters or even withheld political enemies. This lump-sum fund, taken from “savings” of many government agencies, has been used as bribe for senators who voted to remove impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona. And due to its nature as a “presidential pork”, DAP is prone to corruption as any pork barrel fund.

In a forum, Representative Neri Colmenares stated that the government has no money for Genuine Agrarian Reform, industrialization, health care and other public service thereby the need for privatization, public–private partnership and loans, and other government functions. Even the basic services are deprived of budget such as land reforms, housing, education, and health to which the funds should be properly distributed.

Yet there was money on P10 billion PDAF Scam, P310 billion Special Purpose Fund, P132 billion Malampaya Funds, P12 billion Motor Vehicle User’s Fund, P2.6 billion President’s Social Fund, and the P50 million DAP to Senators. He explained what drains our funds, the debt servicing which constitutes P700 to P800 billion per year, misplaced priorities and projects like Public–Private Partnership and Privatization that are more disadvantageous to the public, and the graft and corruption. Moreover, he averred that DAP is unconstitutional because firstly, no part of a fund appropriated for a fiscal year can be deemed as savings and redirected to DAP before the end of that fiscal year. Second, the DAP funds do not fall into the category of savings under the law because the projects where these funds were collected from have not been completed. Lastly, the realigned funds cannot be spent on items not appropriated by law.

According to Former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, the president created his own pork barrel by forming the DAP fund and realigning savings to non-existent budget items in the General Appropriations Act without the approval of Congress because he controls where the money will be spent. The appropriation rules state that the executive branch must consult Congress if they intend to appropriate funds for an entirely different item. Furthermore, he alleged that the president’s intention for creating the DAP might have been political instead of economic.

In addition, constitutional expert Father Joaquin Bernas said that the creation of the DAP to fund new budget items is unconstitutional because the law limits the president to realign savings only in existing budget items. He also insists that the government cannot transfer the savings of one department’s budget to another. Bernas further said that the President’s creation of DAP may be considered as a basis for impeachment, but he expressed doubt that any attempt to oust the President will succeed as he has the control on Congress.

If Malacañang was not keen on seeking a supplemental budget, then projects that need funding but have no current allocations should have been deferred to the next fiscal year. Congress may authorize the President to transfer savings from their departments to augment savings in the same department so the savings in the President’s budget can be transferred to items in his budget not to other departments.

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sources:
Official Gazette Online, Q&A on the Disbursement Acceleration Program, http://www.gov.ph/2013/10/07/qa-on-the-disbursement-acceleration-program/ (2013)
Supreme Court of the Philippines site, http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/
Ayee Macaraig, Jinggoy: P50M for each convict-Corona vote, http://www.rappler.com/nation/39830-jinggoy-speech-drilon-brokered-corona-conviction (2013)
Gil C. Cabacungan, House members also given extra P15M, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/497665/house-members-also-given-extra-p15m (2013)
Michael Lim Ubac, Post-impeachment pork: Drilon, Enrile top list, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/497105/abad-releases-names-of-20-senators-who-got-additional-pork-barrel#ixzz2gND2EqO1 (2013)
Tetch Torres-Tupas, Another petition asking SC to rule DAP unconstitutional filed, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/520331/another-petition-asking-sc-to-rule-dap-unconstitutional-filed (2013)
Philstar, Full transcript of Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s televised speech, http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/10/30/1251367/full-transcript-pres.-benigno-aquino-iiis-televised-speech (2013)
Kenneth Roland A. Guda, Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program, http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2013/10/infographic-dap-noynoy-aquino/#sthash.Wx51Ui55.dpuf (2013)
Charlie V. Manalo and Gerry Baldo, Makabayan bloc seeks DAP abolition, backs Lozano impeach case vs Aquino, http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/item/20266-makabayan-bloc-seeks-dap-abolition-backs-lozano-impeach-case-vs-aquino (2013)
XA/ELR, DAP is PNoy’s ‘pork’, former budget chief Diokno says, http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/329146/news/nation/dap-is-pnoy-s-pork-former-budget-chief-diokno-says (2013)
Raisa Marielle Serafica, DAP: ‘Budget within a budget, illegal’, http://www.rappler.com/nation/40388-benjamin-diokno-dap-illegal (2013)
ABS-CBNnews, Diokno, Bernas: DAP can’t fund new projects, http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/focus/10/02/13/diokno-bernas-dap-cant-fund-new-projects (2013)

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