Duped on the DAP

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“The DAP was presidential pork and the authority invoked by its crafters identified its insidious,
if not criminal, nature.”

When we first heard about it, the public was seething over the issue of pork barrel abuses and had appropriately labelled the then sitting President as the “Pork Barrel King.” We did not yet know just how appropriate that term was until the pork belly fat had started being cut from the Executive blubber and, from there, insidiously slipped into the legislative kitchen to fund and fatten pet projects of presidentially-picked partisans based on their canine loyalties and whatever the Executive wanted cooked at the time.

It was first mentioned in connection with the impeachment of a Chief Justice the administration of Benigno Aquino III had considered an adversary, not simply because he was an eleventh-hour appointee of the preceding administration, but now it seems because of legal and monetary issues surrounding controversial property subjected to agrarian reform.

The Aquino administration had claimed that pork barrel allocations were a thing of the past.

They lied. Only the modus was different. The presidential Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) involved huge funds prematurely carved out of pre-programmed and budgeted amounts appropriated by Congress for the executive branch, and from there hijacked for uses identified by and under the control of the Senate impeachment court.

The DAP was presidential pork and the authority invoked by its crafters identified its insidious, if not criminal, nature. Its masterminds identified at least four statutory bases.

Ironically, one in particular clearly limits the personage, the nature and use of the funding, the agency that the funding can be applied on, and the use for which the funding can be taken. Article VI, Section 25 (5) of the Constitution cites the power solely granted to the president “to augment an item for his office” from the general appropriations act (GAA).

Of the four conditions set in Article VI, three were violated.

One, the use of the DAP funding was not to augment an expenditure authorized by the GAA. Especially not those coincident with releases timed to the Corona impeachment.

Augmentation clearly implies an expenditure already funded through the GAA, but needing additional funding. This signifies two things. The usage is an ongoing, programmed project that had gone through the scrutiny of the budget process. And the usage is within those listed under the GAA.

Two, the agencies to which the DAP were applied were not under the Office of the President. Where the identification, implementation and virtual control of the DAP funds are effectively transferred from the executive branch to chosen partisan legislators whose sole task is to legislate, then these are definitive cross-border malversations of funds.

A violation of this requisite, likewise, flouts the separation of powers and the checks and balances between Executive and Legislative branches where the resulting DAP-lubricated incestuous relationship can be described as criminal collusion.

Three, that the uses of the DAP were not in the GAA means several things. One, these uses are not part of the budgetary process at the Department of Budget and Management that matches fiscal expenditures with prospective revenues. Two, these DAP uses did not go through the requisite public hearings, debate and scrutiny that every GAA item must go through. Finally, as DAP steals from budgeted uses, DAP’s re-channeling is akin to thievery.

In defending DAP’s operators against possible plunder charges and criminal liabilities, some might argue they did not benefit monetarily from the creation and misuse of DAP.

That blindsides us to relevant motives that may link the employment of DAP in the Corona impeachment. If the underlying basis to remove Corona was the latter’s position in the valuation of an estate subjected to agrarian reform, then employing DAP to pay off a matter of personal vengeance factors in the concept of personal gain.

The public is being duped here. Far from a case of usurpation, DAP involves the violation of the Constitution and, indeed, profound criminal corruption.