Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago wants the Senate to conduct a “question hour” with Secretary of Budget and Management Florencio Abad on the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
According to Santiago, the “question hour” is provided for by Article VI, Section 22 of the Constitution. Under this provision, the head of a department of the Executive may be requested by the Senate or the House of Representatives to appear and answer questions pertaining to their department.
Santiago filed a resolution requesting Abad to appear before the Senate, and to bring with him a list of the total DAP amounts distributed to every senator and representative. Santiago also wants Abad to specify the projects for which each disbursement from solons’ DAP was released; and to answer questions from the senators.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago filed a resolution calling for an investigation on the reports that P660 million from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) given to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) remain either unspent or unaccounted for.
“The Supreme Court, in separate decisions, has ruled that both the pork barrel and the DAP are unconstitutional. Yet, these funds still rear their ugly heads and wreak havoc,” Santiago said.
According to the COA report, the utilization of the P560 million from the DAP granted to the PIDS and the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) to fund various research, development, and extension projects did not accelerate spending as envisioned in the DAP.
The COA also said that the PIDS has made a bad land investment using P100 million in DAP funds meant for their own office building. The property turned out to be the site of the sewage treatment facility of Philippine Children Medical Center (PCMC), and has been a contentious issue ever since.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago filed a resolution calling for an investigation on the reports that the Philippine Postal Corp. (Philpost) has accumulated P5 billion in unliquidated cash advances from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“The question we need to ask Philpost and DSWD is, what happened to the P5 billion?” Santiago said.
According to news reports, these cash advances were meant for distribution to a million beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program in 9,657 municipalities.
Philpost is one of the monetary conduits used by the DSWD for the CCT component of its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), which provides cash incentives to marginalized families to encourage them to send their children to school and get regular maternal checkups.
A recent Commission on Audit report found that these unliquidated funds in the hands of Philpost postmasters “exposed these funds to malversation, theft, or other risks.”
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago filed a resolution questioning the legality of two recent Memorandum Circulars by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said to cause current traffic gridlocks in Katipunan Avenue and parts of C5.
“I’m calling for a Senate investigation on these LTFRB issuances because they prejudice public transport safety to benefit only a few. It seems that these issuances violate the Aquino administration’s policies for economic development,” Santiago said.
Santiago identified these LTFRB issuances as Memorandum Circular Numbers 2014-009, suspending operations against colorum buses and out-of-line operations; and 2014-010, which allowed public utility buses (PUBs) to modify their routes and pass through major thoroughfares, such as EDSA, from 19 June 2014 to 17 October 2014.
Colorum buses are public utility vehicles operating without a permit or are out-of-line public utility vehicles that operate outside their approved routes or area.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago cried foul over reports that so-called VIP prisoners enjoy extravagant accommodations in jails.
“How can there be justice in our correctional system when we have a double standard between poor and rich inmates?” the senator asked.
Santiago cited news reports of rich high-risk prisoners in the New Bilibid Prison staying in airconditioned rooms, enjoying contraband supplies such as illegal drugs and alcohol, and even taking in sex workers.
Some VIP inmates reportedly drive around the penitentiary grounds in golf carts, electric motorcycles, and tricycles.
It was also reported that the maximum security compound has its own dress shops, wet and dry markets, fruit stands, as well as facilities such a jazz bar, plaza, and tennis court.
“These prisoners are supposed to be experiencing punishment for their crimes, not taking a vacation. They are making a mockery out of the justice system by turning our jails into their own private resorts,” she said.