Escudero wants the Senate to proceed with DAP probe

By , on July 8, 2014

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MANILA — With the Supreme Court (SC) declaring certain parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional, Sen. Francis Escudero said on Monday the Senate can now proceed with its investigation on the controversial program.

”Now that the decision is already out, our plan is to proceed with our investigation on DAP,” Escudero said in a media interview.

Several senators pushed for investigation of DAP when it was exposed by Senator Jinggoy Estrada in September last year but the Senate postponed it after some groups filed petitions versus DAP in the SC.

”It was postponed because we have to wait first for the decision of the court,” Escudero told the media.

Escudero received some P100 million from DAP but clarified the funds were used for hospitals, medical assistance for indigent patients, and construction and rehabilitation of public markets.

The lawmaker from Bicol stressed that none of his DAP funds went to the controversial non-government organization (NGOs) of Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

When asked if he can account for the DAP funds released to him, Escudero answered, “I don’t know.”

”You’ve been asking us for that, but we do not know which one is DAP fund, which is not DAP. That’s why even us we’re requesting for the list from the Department of Budget and Management,” Escudero added.

Escudero said the SC decision did not strike down the whole DAP, adding what the court struck down were only four, such as withdrawal without certification, unprogrammed funds, funding without any item, and the cross-boarder funding.

”The DBM know all these transactions,” Escudero said.

Meanwhile, neophyte Senators Cynthia Villar and Grace Poe supported Escudero’s move to push through with the Senate inquiry into the DAP.

”I think that’s good so that we will be enlightened whether this kind of system is acceptable. In fairness to the lawmakers, they were given budget which they did know where it came from,” Villar explained.

”It is important for the Senate to investigate. There’s nothing wrong if we will ask them,” Poe, for her part, said.

Poe said she would like to recommend for stricter monitoring in the implementation of the government-funded projects.

Both Escudero and Poe believe that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad should explain to the public everything behind the controversial DAP.

Escudero intends to hold the Senate public hearing on DAP before the State-of-the-Nation Address or SONA of President Benigno S. Aquino III on July 28.