• Palace retreats on DAP fight

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    Budget Secretary Butch Abad addresses justices of the Supreme Court during oral arguments on the legality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program. Abad said the controversial program has been discontinued.  Photo by Rene H. Dilan

    Budget Secretary Butch Abad addresses justices of the Supreme Court during oral arguments on the legality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program. Abad said the controversial program has been discontinued.
    Photo by Rene H. Dilan

    MALACAÑANG on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss the petition questioning the legality of President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), saying it is no longer being used.

    During the oral arguments at the High Court, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza said DAP is “extinct,” thus the case should be dismissed because it is “moot and academic.”

    “DAP as a program no longer exists, thereby mooting these present cases that challenge its constitutionality. Any constitutional challenge should no longer be at the level of the program, which is now extinct, but at the level of its prior applications or the specific disbursements under this now defunct policy,” Jardeleza said.

    “We do not need it anymore and hope we won’t need it again,” he added.

    The government’s chief lawyer said the program’s purpose has
    been attained. He explained that DAP accelerated the government spending at a time when it was needed, particularly from 2011 up to 2013.

    Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, who also addressed the SC en banc, said DAP is a stimulus program that aimed to “use savings to augment other budgetary items in the annual General Appropriations Act [GAA].”

    “May I inform the Court that because the DAP has already fully served its purpose, the administration’s economic managers have recommended its termination to the President,” Abad said.

    The Budget chief said after DAP was introduced in October 2011, the spending during that quarter surged by 32.5 percent year-on-year.

    “This pulled spending up to a full-year growth of 2.3 percent,” he told the tribunal.

    Abad noted that disbursements under DAP strengthened the economy, growing by 11.8 percent year-on-year as of end September 2013.

    He said that infrastructure spending alone recovered from a 29-percent contraction in 2011 to a 34-percent growth as of end-September 2013.

    “The increased spending level contributed significantly to our country’s stellar GDP growth which had averaged 7.4 percent in the first three quarters of 2013,” Abad added.

    “During a time of great need, the President chose to respond by judiciously employing this executive prerogative over the budget provided for in the 1987 Constitution and used by previous administrations,” he argued.

    Jardeleza submitted to the SC a list of DAP-funded projects.
    He maintained that DAP is constitutional.

    “Ang DAP po ay legal at constitutional batay sa sagot sa tatlong
    tanong-una, ang DAP ba ay may pahintulot o approval ng Pangulong

    Aquino batay sa kagustuhan ng Konstitusyon? Ang sagot ay oo.

    “Pangalawang tanong—meron bang tinatawag na appropriation cover o meron bang nakabatay sa budget ng kongreso ang bawat gamit ng DAP? Ang sagot po meron: lahat ng 116 na gamit sa DAP ay may bahay o otorisasyon sa budget o General Appropriations Act.

    “Pangatlong tanong—meron bang savings para sa mga nilaan para sa DAP?

    Ang sagot, meron,” he said.

    Jardeleza said all of the DAP-funded projects can be defended by Malacañang.

    “We challenge the petitioners to pick and choose which among the 116 DAP projects they wish to nullify, the full details of which we shall provide on February 5,” he added.

    The OSG chief said the transfer of appropriations was allowed even under the 1935 Constitution, and also under the 1973 Constitution in the Marcos era.

    Bribe
    SC justices, however, wanted to know if DAP funds were used by Malacañang to bribe senators into convicting former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

    Justice Lucas Bersamin asked Abad if DAP was indeed used to convince the senator-judges to hand a guilty verdict.

    Bersamin raised the question in view of the disclosure of Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada that Malacañang gave senators P50 million to convict Corona. Recently, Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr.
    disclosed that former Sen. Mar Roxas and Abad fetched him to have a meeting with the President. In that meeting, Revilla said he was pressured to convict Corona.

    “I have to ask you this . . . you were the first one to bring the nomenclature, DAP. That was your way of explaining the sources of what was given to the senators during the impeachment of the Chief Justice [Corona],” Bersamin said.

    However, Abad dismissed allegations that Corona was convicted because of DAP money.

    Abad said senators were asked to recommend priority projects or programs subject to the President’s approval.

    “Sometimes, your honor, we are not correctly quoted in the reports. Those [DAP] releases were not releases given to the senators. What happened there was that the senators made recommendations to the President to augment certain items that are deficient in the budgets of certain appropriations for certain projects,” he said.

    He maintained that no bribe was given to the senators.

    “There was money that changed hands—that was completely not true. There was no money given to the senators. What the President did was to approve recommendations . . . those releases were not made in consideration of whatever it was in relation to the impeachment; it has absolutely no relation to the impeachment,” Abad said.

    But Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list insisted that DAP is unconstitutional as it violates Article VI Section 25(5) of the 1987 Constitution which states, “No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; however, the President, . . . may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations.’”

    “No law has been passed to authorize or legalize DAP and the funds released under the said mechanism, thus clearly violating the Constitution,” Ridon said.

    “DAP is illegal. The President and the DBM committed grave abuse of discretion when they identified programs and projects under the DAP and released funds for such. The DAP and the projects under it are nowhere to be found in the 2011 and 2012 General Appropriations Acts, thus by approving such, the Executive Department undermined with impunity Congress’ power of the purse,” he added.

    When the DAP was first used in October 2011, the fiscal year was far from over, meaning the approved appropriations under the 2011 GAA was still in effect thus the realigning and discontinuation of funding for GAA-approved programs and projects that occurred is illegal, Ridon explained.

    Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela party-list agreed with Ridon.

    “DAP is without question illegal and unconstitutional. The manner with which funds are sourced and eventually distributed among legislators violate Constitutional provisions on Congress’ power of the purse and reeks of corruption and political patronage,” Ilagan said.

    With Neil Alcober and PNA

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    20 Comments

    1. Should we construe this as a guilty plea… I think even the administration has ceased to use this scheme, the SC must still pass upon it and decide once and for all if that previous act was constitutional or not… Though we may never undo the act it if its unconstitutional at least it will forever put to end the use of it, and that we may bury it deep once and for all so that no other politician may dig it again. IF, the administration is confident with the DAP why is it asking to scrap the case on the grounds of being moot and academic, isn’t it that this is the best theatre to vindicate their act if it was indeed legal? Trying to run away…

    2. Folks, TAKE NOTE one of the “Major/major” DISCIPLINE of Democracy:

      THE MAJORITY EVEN WHEN IT RESPECTS THE RIGHTS OF MINORITIES CAN STILL BE UNWISE and A PRECRIPTION OF DISASTER IF MOST PEOPLE (MEMBERS/LEADERSHIPS) ARE “SELF-CENTERED OR CORRUPT”. The connection of our Characters with our Politics shows the basis of our governmental policies and priorities.

    3. Even if the government lawyers have said that, since they stopped utilizing what they call DAP, moot and academic as they say, the Supreme Court still has to decide once and for all whether DAP is constitutional or not, for the guidance of the Bar and the Bench. The Aquino Government must be happy that the citizens they govern are not ignorant interms of what is happening in our country. It only shows that democracy is actually working in the Philippines. As good citizens of this country, let us join hands in praying for the guidance of our leaders, and for the future of our children.Everyday is an opportunity for us to thank the Lord.

    4. If it is dismissed, will there be a resolution from SC? How will we know if it’s constitutional or unconstitutional? There should be a ruling from SC about the DAP not just dismissed it, even if Malacanang decided they no longer interested in pursuing the case bcoz it already served its purposed. Just asking lang

      • I believe the Supreme Court has many justices who are truly independent and will render a pronouncement of legality or unconstitutionality of the DAP so that once and for all there will basis for what to do with such funds in the future. There will be no penalty when a pronouncement of unconstitutionality is arrived at if DAP had really been stopped already. Without rendition of a decision, the same type funds disbursement will be repeated unscrupulously.

    5. The ploy of Jardeleza in particular, and the administration in general, is a very poor and desperate afterthought. It is designed to preempt the adverse effects of a Supreme Court decision declaring DAP as unconstitutional and therefore all the previous acts of CNoy in furtherance of DAP are also illegal and criminal acts.

      No matter how ABad twists the reality that DAP was not used as a bribe to impeach Corona, certain supervening events proved otherwise. In fact, after Jinggoy’s expose which was corroborated later by Revilla, ABad clearly and repeatedly admitted that DAP was a new creation of the administration through a mere DBM Memorandum Circular and was the source of funds for the additional pdaf given to the senators, over and above their ordinary allocations. Furthermore, Joker vehemently debunked ABad asserting that he should not be included among those who received funds in the form of DAP.

      Sen. Santiago opined that once the SC declares the DAP unconstitutional then the immediate effect is that the acts of CNoy giving DAP to the senators become impeachable offenses. Hence, the Supreme Court must not swallow this bait hook, line, and sinker posited by Jardeleza. In chess, it is a poisoned pawn and used as a gambit. I am not sure if the administration is aware of the legal implications of their action but it is in fact, an indirect admission by the administration that DAP is illegal and unconstitutional. For why should the administration stop it if it is legal? To reiterate, DAP must be declared illegal and unconstitutional once and for all to prevent any chance of revival or recurrence of this evil from generation to generation.

      A question for CNoy and Jardeleza: Bakit kayo matatakot? Di ba mataas ang trust rating ni CNoy sabi daw ng SWS at Pulse Asia? Inumpisahan nyo ang kabalbalan, tapusin ninyo ang kahangalan. Don’t be a yellow chicken.

    6. ubos na ang pera ….tax na binayad natin….hindi natin sila masisi….binoto natin…para maging leader…anung nangyari…silaw tayo sa pera during election……damn aquino administration….

    7. Roldan Guerrero on

      The DAP had been enforced illegally for three years. Its seisure of exercise does not mean freeing the culprits of facing the penalties of the damages they have done. Be it declared illegal and unconstitional, BSA,Abad,Roxas et al should face the consequences of the law.

    8. Our poor country is suffering too much due to the uncontrolled graft and corruptions by all sectors of our government including the office of the president.

    9. Dante Guillarte on

      If their argument is the DAP has been abolished since middle of last year, how come they had asked twice for the rescheduling of the oral arguments in the SC. They said that they needed time to prepare for this deliberations. It makes my blood boils to hear such stupid arguments from the government.

    10. ABAD A LIAR BY HIMSELF MAKES WHAT IS ILLEGAL AND UNCONSTITIONAL WILL MAKE US BELIEVE THAT DAP IS LEGAL BY HIS ILLEGAL TRANSLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION, THIS IS ABADBADBADBOY, DI BA BINABABOY MO ANG CONSTITUTION, ABADBAD BOY?

    11. hindi ah, The court must declare it unconstitutional, What will stop them to resurrect it, if it wont be declared unconstitutional.

    12. florentino maddara on

      The arguments of the gov panel that the DAP was already terminated and so the SC must junk all the petitions against it is another ploy like they did with PDAF announcing its abolition while they are actually inserting it in their proposed budget. SC must be careful and not to trust the gov panel. There were allegations already that DAP were used such as when they discontinued some of the projects of GMA and the supposed funds became savings only to divert it to other uses such as giving additional PDAF to senators and congressmen,etc. What if the SC junks the petitions and the present administration will employ the DAP again in the near future? SC must decide once and for all that the present regime and the future regimes must always follow to the letter the GAA, period. Because with the hidden lump sums under the discretion of any president he can always play bad or good with it whatever his intention is.

    13. On DAP. “Illegal and unconstitutional without being declared so by the SC by declaring that it is no longer being used and has served its purpose” is a familiar legal tool that will save the Tenant from being scaled. Same as Napoles declaring before the BRC, ” Hindi ko po alam.” o “nakalimutan ko na po at di ko na malala.” E bakit mayroon siyan $688 million dollar account sa America? Hypocrisy and conspiracy in the works.

    14. mikhail hieronymus on

      LIES…LIES and more lies from the lips of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. It is but natural to deny everything!!!!

    15. With Aquino, Roxas and Abad, this is by far the most corrupt, the most imcompetent
      administration the country has ever had. It is clear as mud that poor Corona was
      ousted because the peoples money was used. Aquino said that it is not wrong
      to meet these senator judges right before the decision in the impeachment trial
      was made. These same opposition people cried foul when Gloria telephoned made
      the “Hello Garci” call. That was only a telephone call as compared to the actual meeting made by Aquino with the senator judges who was ferried by his tuta Roxas.
      Is that not more serious? Does that not pervert the principle of due process? Clearly
      it was a direct assault on the rule of law which is worst than filing a wrong SALN.

    16. Abnoy’s gov’t is fighting tooth and nail for DAP so it can cover-up it’s grand corruption. The SC must not give in to political pressure. We the citizens are watching and listening.