Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on Tuesday said he has no regrets in implementing the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), saying the money used to fund the scheme went to its intended purpose.
“How can you regret it without raising taxes, except sin tax? Without borrowing
more? We have managed to increase unprecedently our investment in basic education, health, infrastructure, and housing,” Abad said in an interview on ANC.
He also noted the three percent reduction in poverty in the first semester of 2013 which according to him, showed that the administration’s poverty reduction programs—which received more funds under DAP—were “beginning to take effect.”
“This is a good program and the Supreme Court conceded it is, even our detractors said it is a good program so why stop a good program?” Abad asked.
Last week, Abad offered to resign but he was prevent by President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
The budget chief said he offered to resign even if he believed that he did not commit any wrongdoing, and “for my own self-respect, for my own sense of decency being the chief implementor of the budget and of the DAP.”
“As an honorable act, keeping in mind that there was no wrongdoing that happened here, I must take responsibility for all fallout. I asked for understanding and an apology from all of my colleagues in the Cabinet for all the stress and inconvenience that has been brought upon not just in the DBM but in the other agencies that are implementing the DAP,” Abad said.
“I offered my resignation and I deferred to the wisdom of the President. He has more information that gets to him, he has more points of view that he listens to so he is ultimately the boss,” he added.
The Budget chief said the administration will appeal the Supreme Court’s ruling on DAP because it believes that it did not do anything wrong.
He stressed that there was legitimate basis for implementing the program, and that provisions of the 1987 Administrative Code, on which the administration based its actions, were fully reconcilable with the Constitution.
He noted that past administrations also had their own DAP but these were under different names.
“During the time of President Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, calling it differently at the time of Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, they called it ‘reserve control account’. At that time, it was more fiscal stability. The revenues were not as big, expenditures were huge. They had to control expenditure. During the time of Arroyo, it was called ‘overall savings’. They would withhold those funds at the start of the year, because they were dealing with a serious fiscal situation,” he explained.
Abad said the President’s perceived act of defiance of the SC ruling in his Monday night address was really an “impassioned” plea to the Court.
“The President is the Chief Executive of the country, and under Constitution, he is tasked to faithfully execute the laws and he sees this particular decision as having a fundamental adverse impact on the way he will perform that constitutional function so it’s really more impassioned,” he said.
“There’s a great sense of urgency. In fact he pleaded to the SC. I think it should be taken along that sense,” Abad added.