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DAP Story of PCIJ

The DAP story started 26 months ago supposedly as “a fiscal stimulus measure” designed to shore up public spending and boost economic growth. The Department of Budget and Management has conceived it to bankroll supposedly fast-disbursing, high-impact, and socially responsive projects. But through it all, according to Cabinet secretary, DAP offers public officials a singular lesson: “Good intentions are not good enough.” In truth, until a fortnight ago, DAP was a concept not quite clear to even some Cabinet members themselves. What apparently started as a mere budget management tool soon evolved into “a big pool of funds” or a virtual special purpose fund that did not exist as a line item in the General Appropriations Acts for 2011, 2012, and 2013. Under DAP, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released a supposed total of P144.38 billion in taxpayers’ money for supposedly 116 projects from October 2011 to December 2013. DBM itself could not seem to get its numbers right, however. Various official DBM statements place the DAP funds that had been disbursed to be anywhere from P136 billion to P144 billion to P149 billion, for a significant variance of P5 billion to P13 billion. In truth, DBM’s list of “DAP-funded projects” is a virtual smorgasbord of specific projects to be implemented by single agencies allotted relatively smaller amounts, as well as unspecified “various priority local projects” or “various priority infrastructure projects” given billions of DAP pesos. Two to four agencies were assigned to implement the latter through transfers or sub-allotment of funds covered by a web of inter-agency memoranda of agreement. In these cases, accountability for fund spending and project implementation had been shared, and thus diffused, among the agencies. This vague category of DAP “projects” include those that DBM said had been “requested by legislators, local officials, and national agencies.” But 10 months after the DAP row broke in September 2013, DBM has yet to disclose the full details of which lawmaker or agency had proposed what types of projects, where, and for how much, with lump-sum fund cover under DAP. The saga or DAP lingers on, however, as the Senate is poised to hold a public hearing starting tomorrow, even as the Executive branch has filed a motion for reconsideration of the Supreme Court's 13-0 decision declaring DAP unconstitutional in part..