Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on Thursday dismissed as “baseless” a plunder case filed against him before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly giving funds from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to bribe senators for the conviction of then-Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“That is absolutely without any basis. It’s a figment of their imagination,” Abad told reporters in a text message.
“Incredible! I do not think they are even serious at all about filing that complaint,” he said.
Bonifacio Alentajan, former president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), filed the complaint against Abad for allegedly violating the Anti-Plunder law, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, usurpation of legislative power and authority and obstruction of justice.
“Clearly, therefore, from the doctrinal findings of facts of the Supreme Court, and the judicial admissions of DBM [Department of Budget and Management] Secretary Florencio B. Abad, he transferred funds duly appropriated to one government agency to another without legislative authority, and feloniously awarded and released 50 million pesos each to the senators who voted for the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona or almost one billion pesos,” Alentajan said in his petition.
“Indubitably, DBM Secretary Florencio B. Abad misappropriated, converted, misused public funds without proper authority from Congress.”
But Abad said the funds released to senators were part of the regular disbursement of incentives under DAP, an economic stimulus package of the Department of Budget and Management.
Abad had said the DAP was implemented as early as 2011 to ramp up the economy after a slow economic growth because of sluggish spending.
Allegations that DAP funds were used to bribe the lawmakers during the impeachment trial first floated when Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada in a September 2013 privilege speech said he was bribed P50 million to convict the Chief Justice.
Corona was impeached for false declaration of wealth.
Some practices under DAP, a cross-border savings-impounding mechanism, were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in July 2014. It was criticized as President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s pork barrel.
Abad has a pending plunder complaint before the Ombudsman filed by the Kabataan party-list in July last year but the complaint is still pending at the level of the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office.
Alentajan told reporters that it was his duty as a lawyer and citizen to file a complaint.
“If you distribute that, that means you misappropriated public funds without reason, authority because for you to distribute P1 billion it should have an appropriation act of Congress,” he said.
When asked why was Abad the only one named as a respondent, Alentajan replied, “I have no proof that they received money” referring to the senators who allegedly received additional funds.
He said he might use Estrada as his witness.
“Abad was responsible for all this, he was the one who approved, released and distributed this P50 million to each of the senators, 19 senators,” Alentajan added.