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Savings?

 

THE newest twist in the unfolding corruption scandal in our government is the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the Aquino Administration, which many groups believe is another form or version of the pork barrel.

Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOIThe P72 billion fund for DAP was apparently sourced from the “savings” of different government agencies. The Aquino Administration is asserting the constitutionality of DAP as it maintains that the handling of the funds was not contrary to the constitutional provision on government savings.

Without dealing with the issue on how the DAP fund was disbursed, there is an interesting issue on the nature of the “savings” from which the DAP fund was sourced.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago raised an interesting point about government savings. She asked whether funds for non-implemented projects of government agencies can and should be considered savings. If you see savings in the context of funds for a particular project that remain in a government agency after the project was implemented, you will not really consider funds from non-implemented projects as savings.

One of things that will help clarify the DAP issue is for the Aquino Administration to make public the detailed information on the nature of savings that made up the fund for DAP.

Without such detailed information, there will always be suspicion on real intention of the program especially in light of allegation that part of the fund for DAP that was released through lawmakers was “connected” to the impeachment of then Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

The issue on the nature of “savings” that were pooled for the DAP also needs to be clarified because it will set a dangerous precedent. Can a President of our country choose not to implement projects (with budgets already approved by Congress) or withhold the release of funds for projects and pool “savings” from such projects into a fund, which will later be disbursed through lawmakers or disbursed through projects that he or she will choose?

There is nothing wrong with accelerating government spending to push economic growth. If resources are available, it will be wise for the government to do just that. But there can be a lot of “wrongs” in generating “savings” and disbursing the same.

Did the Aquino Administration violate the Constitution with how it generated and disbursed funds for the DAP? The people are waiting for the true and whole story behind this issue. Let us hope that just like the pork barrel and Malampaya Fund issues, the issue on DAP will help us institutionalize true transparency and accountability in our government.

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