MALACAñANG on Tuesday belied reports that it has tapped allies in the Supreme Court (SC) such as Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justice Marvic Leonen to spare President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad from criminal prosecution once the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is declared unconstitutional.
Reacting to a report by The Manila Times that Sereno herself has been lobbying against the possibility of punishing the President and Abad for implementing a program that violated the Charter, Abad said it was “rubbish.”
“Where are you getting all that rubbish? That’s absolutely not true,” the Budget chief said in a text message to The Times.
According to Abad, it is still too early to tell how the tribunal would decide on the DAP issue although court sources interviewed by The Times had claimed that majority of the justices had voted to declare the DAP unconstitutional.
And since the justices are done debating on the constitutionality of the DAP, the next issue is whether Aquino and Abad can be sued for the “violation.”
The court is expected to announce its decision in the first week of July.
But Abad argued that they still have no inkling as to how the magistrates would go about the DAP, saying all that were written about it are “mere speculations.”
“First of all, we don’t know yet how the SC will decide. So everything else is pure speculation,” the Budget chief stressed.
Even Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. was cautious in making a comment on the reported effort by Sereno and other appointees of the President in the SC.
“We prefer to wait for the SC decision,” Coloma said in a separate text message.
The Times sources said Sereno and some justices are of the view that even if the DAP will be declared unconstitutional, Aquino could be spared from criminal liability because of the doctrine of “presumption of innocence unless proven otherwise.”
It was learned that Leonen has issued a separate opinion in favor of Malacanang. The two magistrates are both Aquino appointees.
The Times source said the magistrates will discuss the “doctrine of operative facts” and the declaration of the DAP as unconstitutional but shall be “prospective in application.”
Sereno, the source added, is pushing for the doctrine of operative facts to be applied in the case of Aquino. Such doctrine states that while the acts of the President may be invalidated, for as long he exercised good faith, then all the effects of his act, including the release and transfer of funds, shall be considered valid.
As a sitting President, Aquino is immune from suit. But once he steps down, he can be charged criminally.