MALACAÑANG has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to defer the debates on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which some groups consider unconstitutional.
In a motion filed before the Court on Thursday, the Palace, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), pleaded with the tribunal to postpone the continuation of the oral arguments on nine petitions challenging the constitutionality of the DAP.
The oral arguments were supposed to be held last December but it was reset for January 28 after the Senate and House of Representatives asked for more time to get their own lawyers.
The OSG asked that the debates be held on March 25, saying it needs more time to prepare since it has hired retired SC Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza as collaborating counsel.
“The foregoing motion is not intended to delay the proceedings and is meant solely for the purpose of allowing the respondents to provide the Honorable Court with a coherent, verified and diligently prepared set of evidence packets that can assist in understanding the factual bases of the government’s Disbursement Acceleration Program, and aid it in the resolution of these cases,” the OSG said.
In an earlier comment, the OSG said “DAP is neither a fund nor an appropriation, but a program or an administrative system of prioritizing spending.”
“As is obvious from its name, it is a program for accelerating disbursements,” it said.
“What is only unstated in the title of the program – DAP – is that the sources of the funds are from, first, the legitimately-generated savings of the government, and second, the unprogrammed fund authorized in any relevant GAA,” it pointed out.
The OSG cited Article VII, Section 17 of the Constitution, empowering the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to issue rules and regulations “to carry into full effect the laws relating to matters within its jurisdiction” for the “achievement of more economy and efficiency in the management of government operations.”
“The President, through the DBM, implemented the DAP in order to accelerate public spending, push economic growth, and promote prudent fiscal management. This is a plain executive policy-making, nothing more,” it said.
“Following this rule, a legal authorization can be issued to allow the President to go beyond the original appropriation by augmenting deficient items with savings from other items,” the OSG said.
The legality of the DAP came under question after Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada branded it as pork barrel given to senators after Chief Justice Renato Corona was ousted by the Senate impeachment court.