June 25, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Senate approved P26.7-billion AKAP; senators estopped from questioning it

A SENIOR leader of the House of Representatives on Wednesday said the Senate had approved the new P26.7-billion Ayuda sa Kapos ang Kita (AKAP) program, which some senators questioned on Tuesday.

“AKAP is part of the 2024 national budget. The Senate gave its stamp of approval on AKAP when it passed the then proposed P5.768-trillion outlay for this year in plenary last Nov. 28,” Senior Deputy Speaker and Pampanga 3rd District Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr. said.

He said based on media reports, the plenary vote was 21 “yes” with one abstention and no negative vote.

He added that the Senate later ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the budget signed by committee members led by finance committee chairman Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara and his House counterpart Elizaldy Co.

“It would be absurd now for senators to be questioning the AKAP and other assistance funds included in the national budget and administered by the Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD) because they approved it,” Gonzales stressed.

He pointed out that one or two senators expressing “surprise” over the presence of AKAP in the 2024 national budget were even members of the House-Senate conference committee that reconciled the two chambers’ version of the spending program for this year.

“They are estopped from speaking against or criticizing what they have approved, unless they tell us now they voted ‘yes’ without reading the budget or at least the conference committee report, which is a summary of the outlay,” he said.

He said questioning the 2024 budget now “would also mean questioning the decision of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to sign the then budget bill into law.”

Gonzales also said Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez or any House member has no hand in the release and spending of funds for AKAP or any program specified in the budget that extends assistance to the poor, jobless, underemployed, and other individuals needing government help.

“It is the DSWD that has sole authority over these funds. That is clear in the budget law,” he said.

He quoted the pertinent provision of the 2024 General Appropriations Act or budget law: 

“The amount of P26.7 billion appropriated herein under the Ayuda sa Kapos ang Kita Program shall be used to implement and provide assistance to minimum wage earners falling under the category of low-income that were severely affected by rising inflation. Implementation of this provision is subject to the guidelines to be issued by the DSWD and the existing budgeting, accounting and auditing rules and regulations.”

“Clearly, the Speaker or any House member has no role in the implementation of the program and the release and spending of funds,” Gonzales said.