Aquino ordered to comment on DAP case
MANILA, Philippines — The Special Panel of Investigators of the Office of the Ombudsman has issued an order directing all parties including former President Benigno Aquino III to comment on the complaints in connection with the disbursement acceleration program.
The parties to the DAP cases, including Aquino, have 15 days from notice to file a comment, the Office of the Ombudsman said.
The ombudsman earlier found probable cause to charge former Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad with violation of Article 239 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) or usurpation of legislative powers.
The charge stemmed from Abad’s issuance of a National Budget Circular (NBC) 541 which carries out the implementation of the DAP involving P72 billion.
The ombudsman found that Abad unlawfully encroached on the powers of Congress by issuing NBC 541 as it modifies provisions of the 2012 General Appropriations Act (GAA)
“NBC No. 541 provided the principal bases for the withdrawal of unobligated allotments which were declared as savings and used to fund PAPs (programs, activities and projects) under the DAP. The issuance of this circular is an act of usurpation. This is contrary to law,” the ombudsman said.
In 2014, the Supreme Court declared the DAP, supposedly created to speed-up public spending, unconstitutional as it violates Section 25(5), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution.
The following acts committed in pursuance of the DAP were deemed unconstitutional:
- withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the GAA
- the cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive Department to augment the appropriations of other offices outside that department
“Under Article 239 of the RPC, the penalties of prision correccional in its minimum period, temporary special disqualification, shall be imposed upon an executive or judicial officer who shall encroach upon the powers of the legislative branch of the Government, either by making general rules or regulations beyond the scope of his authority, or by attempting to repeal a law or suspending the execution thereof,” the ombudsman said.
Abad earlier insisted that he did not personally benefit from the DAP and stressed that there was no bad faith on his and Aquino’s part in undertaking the economic stimulus program.
Earlier this year, the Office of the Ombudsman had indicted Abad over the implementation of the DAP.