Now that President Benigno Aquino 3rd has turned down his offer to resign, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad vowed on Saturday to prove worthy of the President’s trust and confidence.
“Although I was wholly prepared to relinquish my post, I am grateful for the President’s expression of his continuing trust and confidence in my leadership of the Department. I have thus chosen to defer to his better judgment and stay,” Abad said in a statement.
“I am determined, as I have always been, to do justice to the President’s faith in my integrity and competence,” he said.
Abad confirmed that he submitted his resignation letter on Thursday. On Friday, the President announced during a Cabinet meeting that he had rejected Abad’s resignation.
“This was not without thought or reflection. In the wake of the controversy surrounding the Disbursement Acceleration Program, especially after the adverse Supreme Court ruling that declared parts of the program unconstitutional, it became clear to me that I must abide by the highest standards of accountability that we in the Aquino administration hold ourselves to,” he said.
Abad said he was taking full responsibility for his role in developing and implementing the DAP as well as the impact of the resulting controversy on the administration’s governance agenda.
“It was therefore only fitting that I resign,” Abad said.
The Budget chief vowed that officials of his department will perform their tasks with “greater vigilance and meticulousness.”
“I assure the people that we will proceed with a keener awareness of the standards against which our work will be measured, but also with a deeper appreciation of the great opportunities for reform ahead of us,” Abad said.
On Saturday Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the President’s rejection of Abad’s resignation is “final.”
“The President has made his decision. We would just be kicking the can around if we still discuss why it [Abad’s resignation] was revocable or why it wasn’t irrevocable. The fact remains that the rejection of the resignation of Secretary Abad shows the confidence of the President in him stays and the confidence of the President in the reforms that have been initiated under their collective watches,” Valte said in a radio interview.
Calls for Abad’s resignation mounted after Supreme Court declared the DAP unconstitutional.
Valte said Abad is willing to defend DAP before the Senate.
“Even without being called to by Senator Escudero, the DBM is readying the documents on the 116 DAP-funded projects. We will be disclosing that at the appropriate time. We are ready to explain,” she said.
Sen. Francis Escudero earlier announced that the Senate Finance Committee will invite Abad when the panel starts its inquiry into DAP.
Valte said the President’s decision on Abad’s resignation should end calls for the Budget chief to quit.
“We should not add reasons as to why the President made his decision because the President stated clear reasons. It was short but it was clear. Let us not try to add up something so we would have something to talk about,” she added.
“Amid recent disagreements over the constitutionality of DAP and other issues, we ask the public to discern good faith and positive results, and to remain collectively committed to the straight path,” she added.
Militant priest Robert Reyes, who is a college friend and classmate of Abad, has written an open letter urging the Budget chief to submit his irrevocable resignation to the President.
“I read about your resignation Butch and I also read that PNoy refused to accept it. Do yourself and your people a big favor. Resign irrevocably,” said Reyes.
“Let go,” he said.
The priest noted that many people can no longer understand how the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel and the DAP fit Aquino’s “Tuwid na Daan” or straight path mantra.
“If cleansing is to be done then it must be total and thorough. If PDAF goes, then DAP should go as well,” he said.
Reyes urged Abad to disclose the truth. “If you are innocent, if you are clean, there is nothing to fear. Go to jail if you must and let the truth and nothing less set you free,” he said.
He reminded Abad that “prayer is good, but not enough in changing our country.”