The poor, the pretty, and DAP

NO LESS than the home province of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio ‘Butch’ B. Abad, head of the architect agency of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), received the largest allotment releases from the program, based on per capita releases or what each resident in a province could have gotten on average.

From October 2011 to December 2013, DBM released a total of P133 million to Batanes, which has 16,604 inhabitants as of the 2010 census. This translates to a DAP release per capita of P8,013, or about 69 times more than the average per capita of some 1,400 other cities and municipalities and just a little less than what minimum wage laborers in Manila get a month.

To be sure, one in every three residents of Batanes is poor. Based on the income classification data of the Bureau of Local Government Finance, the province has two fifth-class and four sixth-class municipalities, or those earning an annual average of P15 million and below in local taxes and fees. In theory, preference is given to these municipalities when identifying local projects to be subsidized by the national government.

The country’s northernmost province, Batanes prides itself for having unspoiled beauty –something that has attracted both local and foreign tourists. Apparently, though, it thinks it needs more sprucing up. A PCIJ review of the DBM’s list of more than 3,400 DAP releases for “various local and infrastructure projects” reveals that one in three projects in Batanes, or P44 million, went to “greening and beautification program… such as but not limited to planting of trees and/or plants, thoroughfares, and pruning and watering.” A portion of the P44 million was allocated for “100% greening and beautification project and livelihood program…” implemented in various barangays.

The next largest allocation, or P25 million, was released for the “rehabilitation/improvement of Rudleken Junction Provincial Road” and “concreting of Basco-Songsong Provincial Road.” The bulk of this amount, or P23 million, was transferred to the Department of Works and Highways through a Memorandum of Agreement for the ongoing procurement activities.

About P18 million was used for the “rehabilitation of Sabtang mini ice plant,” “construction of Uyugan Centro port” and “Ivana shelter port,” and “improvement/reconstruction of Mahatao fish port.” Wharf construction took P3 million while P1 million went to the “installation of solar lamp posts and accessories.”

But some P8.73 million went to livelihood programs while P6.2 million was released to the Department of Education for the implementation of “integration of school for Ivatan living tradition in school curriculum” under the “indigenous people’s (IP) education” program of the government. Another P1 million was allocated for medical assistance and P500,000 to “construction/rehabilitation of health centers,” “purchase of medicines and health kits,” and “assistance to livelihood and development projects.”

Butch Abad served as congressman of the lone district of Batanes from 1995 to 2004. His wife, Henedina ‘Dina’ R. Abad, took his seat in Congress in 2004. Dina Abad took a short break from the legislature in 2007 but is now serving her second term as Batanes’s representative.

Save for Apayao, where three in five residents are poor, the next top two DAP recipients are wealthy cities and municipalities. Apayao has a population of 112,636. It has seven municipalities, two of which are fourth-class while another is third-class. The province itself is third-class. Apayao received P46.2 million in total DAP funds and has DAP releases per capita of P410.

Mandaluyong City, meanwhile, received the second highest DAP releases per capita. But the figure is a far cry from that of Batanes: P619. The city is located in the second district of the National Capital Region and posted the lowest poverty incidence rate of 3.1 percent. As a first-class city, it also earns at least P400 million on average each year.

This city is represented by Neptali M. Gonzales II, who has been majority floor leader since 2010.

In total, Mandaluyong City received P203.5 million in DAP funds. Of the amount, P135 million was released specifically to its lone district and P68.5 million to the city for some unidentified programs.

Davao del Sur, with a poverty incidence rate of 24.4 percent, comes in next with DAP releases per capita of P412. Eight in 10 projects, or P291.5 million, were implemented in Davao City, which is designated as first-class. The lowest amount of DAP funds, P1.1 million, was obtained by Sarangani, a fourth-class municipality. The rest of the province’s DAP haul was distributed among its 14 other cities and municipalities.

Nearly half or P175 million of the P358 million released to Davao del Sur went to the “implementation of priority programs and projects” in Davao City. Some P5 million worth of livelihood programs and medical assistance were implemented as well in Davao City. A total of P165.8 million was allocated for unidentified programs, P105 million of which went to the city.

The third district of Davao City, represented by Isidro T. Ungab, was also allotted with P5 million for the purchase of medicines. Ungab has chaired two most powerful committees: Ways and Means Committee in 2010 and Appropriations Committee in 2013. The Ways and Means Committee exercises oversight over government’s budgets, whereas the Appropriations Committee oversees the passing of budget in the Lower House.

Negros Occidental has the lowest DAP releases per capita of P6. Negros Occidental, which has a population of 2,396,039, obtained P14.95 million. Of the total amount, Bacolod City received P3 million.

Caloocan City posted the second lowest DAP share, resulting in P7 in DAP funds per resident. Caloocan City is located in the poorest district of Metro Manila with a poverty incidence rate of 4.9 percent, the highest in the region.

By comparison, Pasay City has DAP releases per capita of P10, whereas Las Piñas City has P11. There are no details of their DAP-funded projects in the DBM list. Pasay City and Las Piñas City are both located in the fourth district of Metro Manila, which has a poverty incidence rate of 3.8 percent. — Rowena Caronan, PCIJ, August 2014