MANILA Mabuhay) – Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares on Thursday said the Palace is trying to deflect some of the heat from the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) by linking him to the issue.
Colmenares, a vocal critic of the DAP funds, confirmed an Inquirer report that his office received P25 million for projects meant for various local government units.
He, however, said he was not informed by the Palace at the onset that the funds were sourced from DAP.
He said he recalled his endorsement for the projects in October last year after learning about the nature of the funds.
“Hindi nila nilalagay ang word na DAP sa SARO (Special Allotment Release Orders). P25 million iyon… Pero nung lumabas na ang DAP, medyo nagduda na ako. So I wrote a letter to the Malacañang and the agency and told the agency I suspect na DAP ito, and I withdraw my endorsement,” Colmenares said.
A SARO is a document from the Department of Budget and Management that paves the way for the release of lump sum funds.
Colmenares said no public fund, either from DAP or not, passed through his hands.
The Supreme Court earlier ruled as unconstitutional several acts under the DAP including the cross-border transfer of funds and the use of the funds for new projects not under the General Appropriations Act.
The discretionary fund earlier hit the headlines when Senator Jinggoy Estrada bared that several senators received some P50 million to P100 million supposedly in exchange for voting to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad has said the DAP funds were realigned savings meant to spur government spending.
During its life span, DAP funded projects in many government offices including government’s investigative, security, and social services arms.
Colmenares suspects the Palace is behind the report, which detailed his projects that were apparently funded by the DAP.
“I would probably be the only congressman na tumanggi sa DAP. Tapos ako pa ang uunahin ng Malacañang to deflect the DAP against them?” he said.
Colmenares noted that until now, the Palace has refused to release a full accounting of the DAP.
“Makikita mo ang [pagiging] selective ng Malacañang. Kapag senador P100 million lump sum, senador ang mag-eexplain. Sa akin idinetalye nila ang dokumento,” he said.
Nonetheless, Colmenares said he is thankful that the details of his DAP-funded projects were released.
“It’s good na makita nila na it went to the LGUs and not to the fake non-government orgnization of Napoles,” he said, referring to alleged pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim Napoles, who is facing plunder charges for allegedly using fake NGOs to pocket congressional pork barrel.
The congressional pork barrel, also known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), was also declared as unconstitutional by the SC.
The pork barrel scam has resulted in the filing of plunder and graft charges against three senators, several bureaucrats and individuals.
Colmenares said this alleged attempt to besmirch his name will not stop him from criticizing government lump sum funds. He said this has instead emboldened him in his pursuit to have President Benigno Aquino III impeached and Abad, believed to be the architect of DAP, be tried for plunder.
He added that his participation as member of the prosecution panel during the Corona impeachment trial should not be linked to the DAP.
“We don’t need projects para mag-endorse ng impeachment ni Corona. Principled ang position namin. Naniniwala kaming may irregularity siyang (Corona) ginawa,” he said.
“I wouldn’t know the motives of Malacañang. Dapat lang kasi kung legitimate naman ang projects, it is their job to fund it.” (MNS)