In reaction to the recent controversy on the so-called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights said that such improper use of government funds by the Executive only strengthens the calls to abolish the pork barrel system including the presidential pork.

“The controversial DAP only reinforces the urgent need to abolish the pork barrel system especially the presidential pork as it is used not just for political patronage but also to subvert institutional checks and balances fundamental in democratic processes,” said Daisy Arago, Executive Director of the labor NGO.

Arago explained that the DAP was only made known to the public after it was exposed that funds between P50 to P100 million was disbursed to 20 senators, 19 of whom voted for the conviction of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona in the latter’s impeachment trial in  2012.

Budget Secretary Abad defended the funds given to the Senators a few months after the Corona impeachment saying it was not bribe but part of the DAP. However, Senator Miriam Santiago and former Senator Joker Arroyo hit the Executive, saying DAP is unconstitutional and illegal as it did not go through budget deliberations in Congress.

“Like PDAF, DAP and the presidential pork are tools to gain political leverage against government critics,    buy-off support . Ultimately, these discretionary funds of the Executive reinforce political patronage,” Arago said.

“And similar to what the Arroyo administration did, DAP and funds that are at the sole discretion of the President Aquino are diverted to fund projects only to create a good public image under the pretext of boosting the economy and in support of the poor,” Arago added.

President Aquino’s pork barrel fund in 2014 is estimated at P900 billion at the minimum. This is equivalent to almost half of the 2014 national budget amounting to P2.268 trillion.
The group said that if the Aquino government is truly sincere in combating corruption and promoting transparency and accountability in the government, it must abolish all kinds of pork barrel, including the presidential pork. The group then challenged the administration to instead directly allocate these pork funds to social service sectors through the general appropriations.###