A militant youth group said on Tuesday President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad would be held accountable for inventing and abusing the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC).
Rep. Terry Ridon announced that his group will prepare the charges against the officials involved in its implementation.
“We will push through with the impeachment raps against Aquino and malversation charges against Abad. They need to be held accountable for abusing public funds,” Ridon said in a statement.
The lawmaker noted that with the Supreme Court declaring DAP unconstitutional, they now have a “solid ground” to impeach Aquino for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust, both of which are impeachable offenses.
Ridon said his group, along with other youth organizations including Youth Act Now will file the charges even if the House of Representatives is full of allies of the President.
Under the 1987 Constitution, a vote of one-third of the chamber is needed to impeach the President.
“It is a daunting task, but we are prepared to fight,” Ridon said.
“Abad clearly committed malversation in crafting and implementing the multibillion peso DAP. We will file the appropriate charges against him at the soonest,” the party-list lawmaker added.
“The Filipino people need to make this arrogant administration accountable for implementing an illegal scheme that only served to further the administration’s political motives and perpetuate political patronage in government. To succeed, the Filipino people must stand united in the fight,” Ridon said.
But allies of the President vowed to block any attempt to impeach the President.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and Representatives Romero Quimbo and Ben Evardone said Aquino should not be impeached because of the controversial program.
“No, he cannot be impeached [over DAP]. It was done in good faith and he had good intentions. DAP is a long-standing practice. [There will be] no votes [for impeachment],” Belmonte, the vice chairman of the ruling Liberal Party, said in a text message.
Quimbo, a lawyer like Belmonte, backed the Speaker by arguing that any impeachment complaint filed on the basis of the SC decision on DAP will not fly because DAP was not yet deemed illegal when it was implemented in 2011.
“Before the ruling on DAP, there is nothing clear as far as the rules on how savings are to be used or allocated under our tripartite system [of executive, legislative and judiciary]. On the contrary, DAP was simply an attempt by the administration to formalize the practice being done by previous administrations. Prior to the decision, DAP was in fact, legal,” he noted.
“These circumstances clearly will not make DAP of such a character as to make it a culpable violation of the Constitution,” Quimbo said.
Evardone agreed that the President cannot be impeached over a program which contributed to the country’s economic growth.
“The planned impeachment case against President Aquino based on the Supreme Court ruling on DAP is premature, baseless and will not hold water. We have absolute control of the majority coalition. We will not support any move to initiate impeachment versus the President just on that issue,” he said.
But Rep. Joselito Atienza of Buhay Hayaang Yumabong party-list said Abad should resign.
“The brains behind the DAP—Budget Secretary Butch Abad—who claims to be patriotic, should now be resigning to pave the way for an impartial investigation of this [DAP]. He should also make a complete accounting of how much was disbursed under this illegal program that he concocted, according to his own admission,” the former Manila mayor added.