MANILA (Mabuhay) – At least P1.8 billion in the form of Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds were released to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), which should account for such, Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Luzviminda Ilagan said Monday.
The funds were supposed to bolster the government’s peace initiatives with rebel groups, especially in terms of financial assistance and livelihood projects for rebel returnees and their families.
Despite the vaunted strides in moving towards a comprehensive agreement with the Bangsamoro in negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the breakdown of law and order on many fronts indicates a failure of peace process initiatives, said Ilagan. Therefore, taxpayers need to know what happened to their billions or how these were used.
“Nothing came out of the peace process being pursued by the Aquino government with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and war instead of peace has broken out in Mindanao. The stalled negotiations with the NDFP, the two-week siege in Zamboanga, incidents of bombings and hostage-takings all indicate a breakdown in government peace initiatives,” Ilagan noted.
Overall, she said, it is really “a situation of un-peace,” despite the fact that major DAP releases include the P1.8 billion meant for the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program under the OPAPP. Ilagan asked, “Anong nangyari? Napupunta sa wala ang pera ng taumbayan! [What happened? Did taxpayers’ money come to naught?]”
Notwithstanding the lengthy explanations by Malacanang about the many productive uses to which the DAP – now under question for its constitutionality because it skewed, according to Sen. Miriam Santiago, the meaning of “savings” – has been applied, Ilagana deems it the same as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel,” and pushed for the abolition of both.
She said the PDAF or DAP is allegedly being used by the President “to control the other branches of the government along with the various departments and agencies.”
“According to the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) record, a total of P137.3 billion has been released from the disbursement acceleration mechanism as of October 1, 2013. This includes P82.5 billion in releases in 2011 and another P54.8 billion in 2012,” Ilagan said.
“The executive should be accountable for the creation of the DAP, the usurpation of the power of the purse of Congress and the manner of questionable disbursement and allocation. We never really heard about the DAP up until Malacañang had to create a new animal to justify the distribution of additional funds to those who supported its bid to impeach the former chief justice. These funds have not been deliberated in the 2011 and 2012 GAA and disbursed long before the year was over. In the same way that this was produced out of thin air, it could just as easily evaporate into thin air,” she added. (MNS)