MANILA, Philippines - "Their style is DOM — they deny, they obscure, they misdirect. That's what they do. They distract from the issue, so they are DOM."
This was how Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda dismissed critics of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) who have questioned its legality and propriety.
In a press briefing on Monday, October 7, Lacierda said it was alright to have disagreements over the constitutionality of DAP, but took offense at the fact that "good people are being made to look evil."
"That's wrong. That's a different story," he said.
Lacierda hit in particular former Sen Joker Arroyo and questioned the timing of his criticisms against the Aquino administration, adding it is "very weird" that Arroyo is raising complaints against corruption in government only now.
Lacierda said Arroyo ran for office under the tagline, "Kung bad ka, lagot ka (If you're bad, you will pay)," but said in all the years he was in the Senate "that's not what he did."
Arroyo served two terms or 12 years as senator, from 2001 to June 2013.
"When he was at the Senate there was the fertilizer fund scam, the NBN-ZTE, many other corruption cases were tackled by the Senate Blue Ribbon but he was quiet. Where was his, 'Kung bad ka, lagot ka?'," Lacierda asked.
"When he retired, his slogan became 'Kung Abad ka, lagot ka (If you're Abad, you will pay)," he added, referring to Budget Secretary Butch Abad who has been put under the spotlight following the DAP controversy.
According to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), DAP — mainly sourced from savings or unreleased General Appropriation Act (GAA) items, as well as realignment and unprogrammed funds — was designed to ramp up spending and help accelerate economic expansion.
Arroyo has joined other constitutionalists and lawmakers in saying the government spending program is illegal.
Where was Arroyo?
Lacierda defended Abad and criticized Arroyo for allegedly keeping quiet about scandals during the administration of his ally, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
"I don't think that's right. My point is, where was he during all these times that there was corruption while he was senator? We can defend the realigned savings. The DAP is none other than realigned savings," he said.
Lacierda stressed that more than the discussion of DAP's legal basis — which the government insists is constitutional — the main focus should be on whether the DAP or government funds were used properly or not.
The Palace has consistently cited the 1987 Constitution and the Administrative Code to support the creation of DAP, arguing it stands on "firm footing."
"The issue here is not so much: 'What’s the name of DAP'— that’s realigned savings. But the issue should be and always should be focused on 'Did this person steal from the nation's coffers?' That's what we should always go back to," he said.
"Those who did not use the funds properly, those who misused the funds, and those who stole the people’s money… I agree that they should be prosecuted." - Rappler.com