President Benigno Aquino 3rd will finish his term in 2016 even if the Supreme Court (SC) declares with finality the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as illegal, his allies at the House of Representatives said on Monday.
Reps. Elpidio Barzaga of Dasmariñas (Cavite) and Ashley Acedillo of Magdalo party-list gave the assurance in reaction to a story of The Manila Times that the SC is set to junk the Palace’s motion to reconsider its ruling declaring some portions of the DAP as unconstitutional.
The DAP is a spending program that allowed agencies under the executive branch to declare its unspent appropriations as savings at anytime and to realign these with the administration’s priority projects, including those proposed by lawmakers.
But the High Court ruled that such declaration was illegal since it violated Congress’ power of the purse.
“I don’t think a destabilization plot or an impeachment [complaint against the President]will prosper. The mere fact that the Supreme Court declares an act of the President unconstitutional does not necessarily mean that the President committed an impeachable offense,” Barzaga, one of the party-leaders of the National Union Party (NUP) allied with the majority coalition in the House of Representatives, said in a text message.
Grounds for impeachment include culpable or willful violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption and betrayal of public trust.
The majority bloc in the House has at least 250 members and is composed of the ruling Liberal Party, NUP, Nationalist People’s Coalition, Nacionalista Party, party-list groups, and even the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), the opposition bloc in the Senate.
“Besides, it is the House of Representatives that has the exclusive and sole authority to determine what is an impeachable offense,” Barzaga, a lawyer, said.
Acedillo, a former Air Force combat pilot who participated in at least two coup attempts during the Arroyo administration, shared Barzaga’s sentiments but expects critics to pound on the DAP issue until the commencement of the 2016 elections.
“I will not underestimate the motives of the opposition and the left-leaning groups in coming up with a concerted demolition effort to impugn and discredit the administration if and when the Supreme Court upholds its previous ruling, but I do not expect either a destabilization or impeachment move against the President,” Acedillo said in a separate text message.
The High Court declared the DAP unconstitutional in July.
A few days alter, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, a retired Supreme Court justice, said her office will investigate the DAP issue.
Result of the independent probe is yet to be disclosed.