Budget Secretary Butch Abad grilled by senate panel on DAP details

What you missed from yesterday’s Senate hearing.

Karen Galarpe of GMA News reported on Thursday (July 24) that the Senate finance committee invited Budget Secretary Butch Abad to make a public accounting of how the administration spent public funds released under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).


Here are some highlights from the hearing:


Abad explained that the DAP was an "urgent response to an urgent problem." He said that the Cory Aquino administration had a similar system called the Reserve Control Account. This system, he said, was also used in the subsequent Estrada and Arroyo administrations.


According to the secretary, some of the DAP-funded projects include the construction of roads and bridges and payment of unremitted GSIS premiums of teachers. He also said that the Supreme Court’s decision to declare parts of the DAP unconstitutional "may undo the progress we have achieved so far."


Senator JV Ejercito asked Abad if the permission of the President was asked for every DAP fund release. Abad responded that a memo is given to the President every time.


Senator Antonio Trillanes IV asked if there was any stealing done in connection with DAP, to which Abad replied that this was audited and there are procedures in place if theft is discovered. He added that a list of projects funded by DAP will be uploaded on the Department of Budget and Management website.


Later, Senator Grace Poe asked how projects funded by DAP are determined. Abad answered that there are five clusters of government that they consider when determining which projects to prioritize. Poe later mused in a radio interview with Karen Davila that some of the projects didn’t seem to be in urgent need of funding at all.



In a much-talked about story, Senator Nancy Binay questioned DOH Secretary Enrique Ona on the stem cell research project that had a price tag of P70 million. She said that the money could have been spent on dengue research instead.


Ona explained that the 70 million was used to fund the construction of a laboratory and the purchase of equipment. He clarified that the research being done can be used for other illnesses, too.


Binay, however, said the money could have been used to buy more hospital beds in government hospitals, saying, "Hindi niyo ba naisip to buy hospital beds instead of stem cell research? 70 million pesos is equivalent to 1,400 beds."

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Senator Sonny Angara later asked Abad if the process of budgeting can be transparent to preserve the trust of the people in the government. Abad agreed, saying, "Sumasang-ayon naman kami sa inyo [na kailangan] ang tiwala ng taumbayan... napakahalaga na maibalik natin at maipagpatuloy ang tiwala ng tao sa proseso."

For a complete recap of the hearing, log on to GMA News.

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