Authors of the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law to deter future commission of large-scale graft and corruption, according to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, issued the statement on Wednesday, a day after the Supreme Court (SC) affirmed an earlier ruling that DAP funds are illegal.
A protégé of the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, Villegas urged legal experts to study the implications of the High Court’s ruling.
He said the CBCP, with the aid of consultants and experts, will study the SC ruling on the DAP and will make proposals for “change either by legislation or even by constitutional amendment.”
“It is also hoped that those who knowingly and deliberately misused public funds in a manner declared illegal by the Supreme Court should now be investigated and, if necessary, prosecuted,” Villegas pointed out as he renewed the CBCP’s call for a government that truly serves the nation by avoiding all forms of corruption and deceit.
In its decision on Tuesday, the tribunal ruled that only the authors of the DAP can be held liable.
“While it does seem like the Supreme Court has maintained its initial characterization of transfer of funds from one branch of government to another, some are disturbed by the fact that its ruling apparently lends its judicial fiat to disbursements for unappropriated items or projects. Under our present constitutional system, the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says its text means,” Villegas said.
He urged everybody “to abide by the rule of law by complying with the decretal provisions of the Supreme Court’s judgment and resolution.”
In its ruling, the High Court clarified that President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, the main authors of DAP, could only be cleared if the court would find them acting in good faith.
Hence, it is expected that a series of charges will be filed against Aquino and Abad while the proponents and implementors of the DAP are no longer liable for their acts.