YOUTH groups on Tuesday filed a plunder complaint against Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with alleged misuse of public funds through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The petitioners led by Kabataan party-list and Youth Act Now! said Abad “misappropriated, misused and malversed public funds” through the DAP, which was declared by the Supreme Court (SC) unconstitutional.
In their complaint-affidavit, the petitioners claimed that “all the elements of plunder exist in the instant case.”
“The respondent systematically misappropriated, converted, misused and malversed public funds through his executive issuances and the programs
implemented by him as Budget secretary,” they said.
The petitioners cited the SC decision that struck down DAP.
They noted that the High Court explicitly excluded Abad and other “authors, proponents and implementors of the DAP” from the “doctrine of operative fact.”
“Operative fact” is a judicial doctrine that “nullifies the void law or executive act but sustains its effects.”
“By leaving the authors, proponents and implementors of the DAP open for investigation for their criminal, civil and administrative liabilities, the justices of the Supreme Court are in fact telling the Filipino people that the Aquino administration, especially Budget Secretary Abad, should be held liable,” Rep. Terry Ridon, the primary author of the complaint, said.
The petitioners argued that Abad cannot claim “good faith” or “ignorance of the law” in committing illegal acts through the implementation of the disbursement program.
They cited portions of Associate Justice Arturo Brion’s separate opinion where he said Abad may have run circles “around the budget and its processes, and did, in fact, purposely use this knowledge for the administration’s objective of gathering the very sizeable funds collected under the DAP.”
“It should also be noted that Janet Lim-Napoles, in an affidavit dated May 12, 2014 submitted to the Department of Justice, has claimed that respondent was her mentor, having taught her how to use non-government organizations in maximizing her earnings in transactions involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel of lawmakers,” the petitioners said.
“Despite Secretary Abad’s clear violation of the Constitution and other relevant laws, the Aquino administration continues to coddle the secretary, even going to extreme lengths to defend him. That is why youth groups decided to again take the initiative and file charges against the Budget secretary to hold him accountable,” Ridon said.
“The very fact that Aquino is coddling a criminal like Abad only proves that the two of them have connived to execute this multibillion monstrosity known as DAP.
Filing criminal charges against Abad is just the first half of the legal actions that we’ll pursue. We will be filing an impeachment complaint against Aquino next,” the militant youth lawmaker added.
Ridon also appealed to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to expedite the investigation of Abad’s case.
“The public deserves to know the truth. The esteemed Ombudsman should not give in to pressure by the Aquino administration. We challenge the Ombudsman to act swiftly and judiciously on our complaint and make Abad accountable for his crimes against the Filipino people,” he said.