The Supreme Court deferred its ruling on nine petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), touted to be President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s own “pork barrel.”
The DAP petitions were calendared for deliberations on Tuesday but it was not clear if the deliberations were completed and if a decision was reached.
Insiders told The Manila Times that the SC will again tackle DAP on July 1.
The petitioners said DAP, just like the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, is unconstitutional since only Congress can appropriate state fund.
Created in October 2011, the acceleration program was described by Malacañang as a “stimulus program” that will fast-track basic projects of the government.
It turned out, however, that DAP was used conveniently to benefit allies of the Aquino administration.
Meanwhile, Renato Reyes Jr., a petitioner and the secretary-general of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, said his group was dismayed by the “delay” in the DAP ruling, saying there may be moves to influence the magistrates to rule in favor of the controversial program.
About P149 billion in public funds was released under the DAP until the acceleration program was aborted in mid-2013.
Although Malacañang has stopped the release of DAP funds, the High Court is under pressure to make a ruling to prevent the resurrection of the program.
It was believed that DAP funds were utilized to secure the conviction of then-Chief Justice Renato Corona during his impeachment trial.
Leaders of various groups that are staging a massive rally against all forms of pork barrel on June 12 expressed dismay over the Supreme Court’s deferment of its ruling on DAP.
Lawyer Argee Guevarra, the spokesman of the 6.12.14 Protest Coalition, said the delay “has already led to educated suspicion that the Supreme Court is dancing around its resolution to a music played by Malacañang.”
“Today’s deferment by the Supreme Court inches closer from suspicion to well-founded belief that the presumptive adjudication by the high tribunal of DAP as unconstitutional is to help relieve the Palace of mounting pressure for presidential accountability in the use and misuse of public funds,” Guevarra told The Manila Times.
The lawyer is also a convenor of the Scrap Pork Movement and leader of the militant group, Sanlakas, which will join other groups on Thursday in a huge protest action against pork funds.
“The sauce for the hog should be the sauce for the pig. The earlier SC decision declaring legislative pork also known as PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] as unconstitutional should apply with more reason to the presidential pork known as DAP.
Both are public funds. The first was pocketed by solons while the latter was used as a bribe to legislators for the vote of impeachment against a Supreme Court Chief Justice,” Guevarra said.
Reyes echoed Guevarra’s views, noting that the magistrates may be influenced in coming out with a decision.
“We will continue to be vigilant. DAP will be included in our call [against pork]on June 12,” he said.