House leaders remain optimistic that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the legality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)—a mechanism wherein the President realigns government savings and windfall state revenues to priority programs of the administration.
Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao of Isabela, House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd of Mandaluyong and House Committee on Games and Amusements Chair Elpidio Barzaga of Cavite expressed such sentiments in light of the move of Solicitor General Francis Jardaleza last January 16 asking the High Court to move the oral arguments on DAP to March 25 from January 28.
Jardaleza’s move marked the second time that he requested the High Court to defer the oral arguments on DAP. The oral arguments on DAP has been earlier moved from December 2013 to January 28 this year.
“I would not draw any adverse conclusion about the request of the Solicitor General. The case is complex and requires a thorough examination of voluminous evidence,” Aggabao, a lawyer and a certified public accountant, said in a text message.
DAP drew attention when Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who is facing a plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman over the P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), revealed in a privilege speech that the President realigned savings to the priority projects of the lawmakers thru DAP after the conviction of then Chief Justice Renato Corona of betrayal of public trust due to undeclared wealth.
DAP’s legality was eventually questioned before the High Court.
Gonzales, however, argued that DAP’s hurdle was mainly due to its naming as DAP and the earlier accounting of savings by the agencies because the validity of the budget was reduced from two years to one year.
“It was named as DAP, so the dispute came there. As for the [Presidential] realignment of savings [to priority projects], it is done and it is legal. The budget’s validity was just reduced to one year from two years and agencies were suddenly required to outline their savings,” Gonzales pointed out in a separate talk.
Likewise, Barzaga does not think that Jardaleza’s move is an admission that the government is yet to secure enough votes yet from the High Court justices favoring DAP’s legality.
“The OSG would need time to fully equip them for the oral arguments before the Supreme Court From what I read, the High Court asked for the receipts of the disbursements made thru DAP, so the OSG and the DBM would have to prepare documents,” Barzaga said in a separate interview, referring to the Department of Budget and Management.
“Having said that, I don’t think the government doesn’t have the numbers. I’m sure the Supreme Court justices are yet to make a decision on the issue because the oral arguments are yet to resume,” Barzaga added in closing. LLANESCA T. PANTI