PNoy, like Abad, liable for DAP — lawmakers
Militant lawmakers said on Thursday that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and President Benigno Aquino III, being the lead perpetrators of the Disbursement Acceleration Program, should be prosecuted for their “illegal act” on the implementation of DAP that was declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said President Aquino, Abad and others who are responsible for the DAP mess should not escape liability over the DAP that involves billions of pesos that is not owned by Abad.
“Abad and all those who are responsible in the DAP should be held accountable,” Zarate, a lawyer, said.
Zarate said Abad’s defense of good faith was “misplaced,” “considering that there were indicators showing he might have established the DAP knowingly aware that it is tainted with illegality.”
Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon, one of those who filed technical malversation charge against Abad, appealed to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales not to exempt President Aquino from the ongoing investigation related to the controversial DAP.
Ridon said that the case against Abad is strong, especially in light of the Supreme Court decision outlawing the DAP.
“Ombudsman Morales should take the cue from the DAP decision of the SC, as it clearly challenges the public to hold Abad, and even Aquino, accountable for creating DAP,” Ridon said, referring to the 27-page final decision on DAP promulgated by the Supreme Court in February this year.
Ridon said that while the Ombudsman could not yet file a case against the President due to his immunity, the anti-graft court should immediately charge Abad and Relampagos before the Sandiganbayan.
“The cases should be filed soonest and with haste,” Ridon said.
In the said ruling, the SC upheld the unconstitutionality of several acts under DAP, particularly the “withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies, and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings,” and the “cross-border” transfer of savings.
The SC also emphasized that “only DAP projects found in the appropriate GAAs may be the subject of augmentation by legally accumulated savings.” “Whether or not the 116 DAP-funded projects had appropriation cover and were validly augmented require factual determination that is not within the scope of the present consolidated petitions.”
“This is precisely what the Ombudsman needs to investigate – whether a crime was committed by channeling funds to these DAP projects. Any keen observer who’s followed the DAP fiasco would agree that enough evidence is present to indict Aquino and Abad,” Ridon said.
Meanwhile, Malacanang said that the Office of the Ombudsman’s probe into the case against Abad and Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampago over the DAP was being done for public interest.
“The conduct of the preliminary investigation provides an opportunity to clarify the legal issues on the implementation of the DAP considering that upon the government’s motion for reconsideration, the Supreme Court upheld the principle of operative fact. We affirm our position that the government acted in the public interest,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr during a press briefing in Malacanang.
The Ombudsman recently announced the result of its Field Investigation Office’s fact-finding investigation into the utilization of DAP funds for the period 2011 to 2012.
“The special panel of field investigators said that Abad and Relampagos authorized the DAP sourced from pooled savings as ‘a plan to boost disbursements’ and ‘to jumpstart the implementation’ of the government’s expenditure program,” the Ombudsman said.
As authorized, the DAP projects were identified based on their multiplier impact on the economy and infrastructure benefit, beneficial effect on the poor and translation into disbursements, the Ombudsman said.
“In the Supreme Court’s decision on the motion for reconsideration of the government, the High Court declared that the government acted in the principle of operative fact, meaning the actions done by the government officials before a decision was handed out by the court was covered by the principle of ‘presumption of regularity’,” said Coloma.