Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Drilon: DAP funds used for Iloilo project

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today stressed that every centavo of the P100 million funds which he availed of under the government’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in 2012 was properly spent in a project that would spur development in the Western Visayas.

Drilon explained that the P100 million under the DAP went to the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center, which President Benigno S. Aquino III inspected last June 27. 

“I invite everyone to visit Iloilo and take a look at the Iloilo Convention Center which is nearing completion,” Drilon said.  

“The funds I availed of were not misused, nor were they channeled to a bogus non-government organization,” pointed out Drilon. “The funds were used for the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center in order to boost Iloilo’s chances of hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ministerial meetings in 2015.”

“This is a realization of a lifelong dream of the Ilonggos to have their own convention center at par with those of Cebu’s and Davao’s,” said Drilon.

“What is wrong with fulfilling the dreams of your people? What is important is that we can account for every centavo of the public funds and that there is transparency and accountability in the implementation,” he emphasized.

Drilon pointed out that official records would show that every peso in DAP funds he availed of was directly coursed through the Department of Public Works and Highways, which implemented the project.

The Senate chief also said that while he respects the decision of the Supreme Court, he still believes that the DAP has served its purpose of expediting the spending capacity of the government which resulted in higher-than-expected growth rates for the past quarters.

Drilon said that he spearheaded the construction of the convention center, which has a total cost of P700 million, in order to expand tourism industry in the Western Visayas.

“It is designed to attract and accommodate major conferences, summits, congresses, fairs, and trade shows and exhibits. It can accommodate more than 3,700 people,” noted Drilon.


MANILA-An empowered citizenry committed to rejecting the temptation of drugs is one of the most effective defenses against drugs, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said Tuesday.

“The war on drugs is an advocacy as much as it is a campaign, and we give proper importance to the power of social mobilization in expanding our cause,” the Vice President said in his keynote speech at the 35th Meeting of the ASEAN Senior Officials on Drug Matters in Makati.

“At stake in this fight is the future of our nation, and it is only proper that we enlist the help and power of each and every Filipino to see our efforts culminate in certain victory,” he added.

“We continue to harness the swelling support of our people to create a front that is wide enough and deep enough to withstand the assaults of drug rings worldwide,” he further said.

Binay said that as barriers to international and regional trade continue to come down, drug cartels also continue to expand their operations.

“The supply chain of illegal drugs has moved with greater sophistication and precision. Drug rings have exerted the most determined efforts not just to avoid detection, but to move larger quantities of their merchandise from source to market,” he said.

“The regional entry of top-level Western syndicates in the wholesale manufacturing of narcotics is a great cause for alarm and coldly underscores how complex and borderless the drug trade has become,” he added.

Binay, the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFW) Concerns, also noted that OFWs as well as those intending to find employment overseas have become prey to both local and international drug syndicates.

“Foreign criminal elements have used both social media channels and local scouts to recruit unsuspecting people from the provinces to serve their illicit end,” he said.

”In 2011, the Philippine Government busted members of the West African Drug Syndicate (WADS) in Manila for possession of cocaine that was to be smuggled into Thailand. WADS have gone as far as to send their operatives here as exchange students to marry Filipinas and then turn their brides into drug mules. The women fly out of Manila to a supply stopover to pick up drugs, and then to a final destination where the contraband is delivered,” he added.

The Vice President also mentioned the case of Sarah Villanueva, one of three Filipinos sentenced to death in China in 2012 for drug smuggling.

“Our countrywoman was asked by a fellow Filipino to bring along what looked to be an empty piece of luggage. It was only upon arrival in China where the suitcase proved to be lined with four kilos of heroin,” he said.

“The person who enticed Ms. Villanueva to transport this seemingly innocuous suitcase has been brought to justice, but Ms. Villanueva’s deceiver is only one of many who will go to great lengths to facilitate the trafficking of drugs, regardless of the lives that are risked and lost,” Binay added.

The Vice President then stressed the Philippines’ commitment to achieve a drug-free ASEAN by 2015.

“Our country’s efforts in supply reduction, demand reduction, alternative development, civic awareness and response, and international cooperation are merely beginnings in addressing the drug menace via a holistic, balanced, integrated and strategic approach,” he said.

He cited the government’s efforts to crackdown drug operations in the country, including the raid on a Batangas game fowl farm in February that led to the arrest of three members of the Mexican Siniloa Cartel and recovery of 84 kilograms of methamphetamine.


MANILA-The National Housing Authority (NHA) has identified almost 70 hectares of land that can be developed as settlement sites for Yolanda survivors, said Vice President Jejomar C. Binay.

In a report to the Vice President, NHA General Manager Chito Cruz said the agency has identified about 67 hectares of national and government land on which they can build 8,433 housing units.

Binay said NHA, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and other concerned agencies are fast-tracking the identification of government lands to help displaced families be resettled soon.

He added that NHA and HUDCC, in coordination with Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson, are working vigorously to provide disaster-resilient permanent homes to the survivors of Yolanda.

“Our mandate is to build disaster-resilient homes for families living in unsafe areas in the 171 cities and municipalities along the 50-kilometer typhoon path,” Binay said.

“However, the availability of suitable land remains to be a concern in our permanent housing program for Yolanda victims,” he added.

As chief of the government housing sector, the Vice President heads the Yolanda Resettlement Cluster.

Binay said land development and housing construction are already being undertaken in some areas. The houses being constructed can withstand 250 kph winds, in accordance with the specifications of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

“About 2,950 of these units are under construction – 1,193 in Tacloban City, 366 in Tanauan and 200 in Palo all in Leyte; 896 in Roxas City, Capiz, and 295 in Dumangas, Iloilo,” he said.

These projects are being developed in partnership with GMA Kapuso Foundation, Habitat for Humanity and Gawad Kalinga. The NHA funds and undertakes land development while the NGOs build houses, with NHA augmenting funding requirement whenever necessary.

Earlier, Binay called for stronger cooperation between and among government agencies, the private sector and NGOs to fast-track the provision of permanent housing units to the Yolanda-affected families.


MANILA-Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada reiterated today his earlier pronouncement that the Commission on Audit may not be the best body to look into the expenditures made under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
This developed as the Supreme Court recently struck down the essential provisions of the DAP as unconstitutional.
The lawmaker said that though the COA is constitutionally mandated to examine and settle all accounts of the government, its findings will be suspect and will be regarded with partiality as the commission is also a recipient of the DAP funds.
Sen. Estrada recalled that during his interrogation of the 2014 budget for the COA, Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan admitted that they requested and received funds from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to finance the modernization program of the commission.
A total of 143 million which was sourced from the DAP was given to the COA and were used for information technology infrastructure (P68,352,000), installation of closed-circuit television (P2,079,000), hiring of litigation experts and legal and management consultants (P4,607,000), and purchase of service vehicles (P5,115,000).
“Did these COA ‘projects’ help boost the economy, as the DAP they say was intended for fast moving projects and to pump prime the economy?” Jinggoy wondered.
The senator further said that since the DAP spending was made outside the enacted budget approved by Congress, no one knows how much taxpayer’s money was channeled through the said unconstitutional mechanism.
“I think we can all agree that the people have the right to know how public funds were used, how much has been poured into the DAP, what projects were funded using this scheme, and whether these projects were completed or not,” Jinggoy said.
“Full disclosure and special audit are in order. However, I have serious reservations about the COA, being a recipient of the fund, as the auditor,” he added.
Sen. Estrada again brought up the option of an independent body composed of esteemed personalities from the academe, mass media, retired justices, private auditors, among others to probe and audit the releases made under the DAP.


Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this blog do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of "THE CATHOLIC MEDIA NETWORK NEWS ONLINE".

Should the Philippine government legalize same-sex marriage?