Guingona: Blue Ribbon to probe DAP if funds were misused

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Monday, July 28, 2014

SENATOR Teofisto Guingona III said the Blue Ribbon committee is willing to investigate the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program if state auditors find any evidence of fund misuse.

During the opening of the 16th Congress' second regular session, Senator Guingona III, committee chairperson, expressed willingness to do it right away once the Commission on Audit (COA) will submit their report and if the evidence is there to start a probe.

Blue Ribbon is tasked to dig deeper into alleged anomalies and as chairman, "I will not hesitate to conduct a probe if there is really corruption."

Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito said he welcomed this move of possible investigation to dig deeper into the issue of DAP, which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Opposition Senator Nancy Binay, for her part, said the government continues to peddle the DAP, which appears to have been a pre-meditated attempt to dupe the Filipino people of their hard-earned money.

"Secretary Abad has been making the rounds in the media insisting that the DAP is meant to pump-prime our economy but I fail to see how funding stem cell research (which was funded under DAP) — but not projects for hospitals, medicines, vaccines, or increasing nurses’ pay — will have a significant and accelerated impact to our economy," she said.

Binay believed that the Senate committee on finance hearing on the much-criticized Palace money pool last Thursday only succeeded in revealing that DAP-funded projects were never in accordance to its criteria of being instrumental in poverty alleviation, economic expansion, climate change mitigation, and its multiplier effect on the economy.

"Abad repeatedly claimed the DAP was an instrument to spur the economy but based on what was revealed in the Senate hearing, it seems most of the projects covered by DAP did not undergo any extensive reviews," she explained.

"I hope the DBM would be able to provide studies for projects it chose for DAP funding and that these were based on a set of criteria. What I am afraid of is that most of these projects were not carefully studied before funds were thrown into it through the acceleration program," she said.

"It seems that Secretary Abad had huge discretion on what projects to fund and I believe that in this manner, the fiscal independence of constitutional bodies is being hijacked by DAP," Binay added.

The pooled savings of the government between 2011 and 2013 amounted to P237 billion, of which, P167 billion went to DAP. However, while P157 billion proposed projects were approved for the acceleration program, only P144.3 billion was released.

Having gone around the country for medical missions, Binay also cited the insufficient number of hospital beds and the pitiable healthcare services in government hospitals, and asked Secretary Abad whether this was not a more pressing matter than the P70 million stem cell research program.

"DAP funded stem cell research for P70 million. Also approved were funds for the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Commission on Audit (COA), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and (Bureau of) Customs. How about the projects which addresses the gut issues of the population?" Binay asked.

Binay said the investigation will push through if COA would reveal any questionable dealings as far as DAP is concerned. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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