• Aquino takes bullet for Abad, delos Reyes

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    They may be under fire from President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s allies but Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes are not going anywhere.

    Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in a news conference on Tuesday, said Aquino continues to stand behind Abad and delos Reyes.

    “[The President continues to trust Secretary Abad and Secretary delos Reyes],” Coloma replied, when asked if Aquino would heed his allies’ call to fire both officials.

    Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, an administration ally, earlier appealed to Aquino to let Abad and delos Reyes go.

    Bello wants Abad fired for damaging the administration’s reform program with his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which the Supreme Court had declared unconstitutional.

    Delos Reyes was accused of being weak in implementing the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (Carper) Law.

    But, Coloma said, Presidential Political Adviser Ronald Llamas, one of Akbayan’s leaders, has made it clear to him that Akbayan party-list “continues to support the President and his administration’s reform programs.”

    Lawmakers, both in the House of Representatives and the Senate, have called for the firing of Abad due to the DAP.

    Last July 1, the Supreme Court declared the DAP, an economic stimulus program, unconstitutional.

    The High Court struck down the executive branch’s practice of declaring savings from unreleased appropriations and using unprogrammed or standby appropriations.

    It ruled that savings and standby appropriations could be declared only at the end of the fiscal year.

    Partly because of the DAP controversy, Aquino’s approval and trust ratings suffered double-digit drops between March and June.

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