BUDGET Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad is willing to take full responsibility for the implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which was declared illegal by the Supreme Court even if it was President Benigno Aquino 3rd who approved the program.
Abad, in an interview with reporters on Thursday, said Aquino signed all DAP-related documents since all projects needs the approval of the president.
“We endorse to the President and the President has the final approval…I sign the endorsements and the approval, it’s approved by the President. Of course all the projects are approved by the President,” Abad said.
He however expressed willingness to take full responsibility of the DAP controversy, saying that he’s ready to answer the allegations at the Ombudsman.
“That’s the finding of the Ombudsman and for me that’s fine because you know the President has to be busy doing what he has to be doing as President so I would want him not to have any distraction so that’s fine,” Abad added.
The Office of the Ombudsman did not include Aquino in the charge sheet because the accusations did not amount to an impeachable offense.
The Ombudsman only investigated Abad and Undersecretary Mario Relampagos.
Some observers suspect that the Ombudsman’s move is part of efforts to spare the President from any liability and have the DBM secretary take the fall.
But Professor Ramon Casiple, a political analyst, said he doesn’t see Abad as a fall guy.
Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said Abad should be charged at the Sandiganbayan immediately.
“Ombudsman (Conchita) Morales should take the cue from the DAP decision of the Supreme Court as it clearly challenges the public to hold Abad, and even President [Benigno] Aquino [3rd], accountable for creating DAP,” Ridon said.
“While the Ombudsman could not yet file a case against the President due to his immunity, the Ombudsman should immediately charge Abad and Relampagos before the Sandiganbayan. The cases should be filed soonest,” he added.
Bu Malacañang insisted that the implementation of DAP was in accordance with public interes.
In a press briefing, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said there is no need for Abad and Relampagos to leave the Cabinet as they are subjected to primary investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman for technical malversation.
“The law does not require (resignation) because there’s still no need since the preliminary investigation has not been started,” the official explained.
“Our position remains that the administration acted on its mandate with public interest as its highest consideration,” Coloma added.
Coloma explained that the SC decision on the motion for reconsideration filed by the government touched on the importance of “operative fact,” meaning all acts done before the decision were considered under the “presumption of regularity” and “prospective application.”
Abad also welcomed his investigation for technical malversation.
“First, technical malversation does not suggest that the individuals in question committed acts of graft or corruption. Nor does the investigation imply that these individuals used public funds for their personal gain or benefit,” a Department of Budget and Management statement said.
“Certainly, the inquiry is not a matter of whether individuals had stolen from public coffers,” it stressed.
Like Coloma, the DBM said the probe will not only enable the parties to present their views on all remaining issues involving DAP, trusting that “the Ombudsman will conduct the investigation with the soundest judgment.”
“The inquiry involves the application of excess or unutilized public funds to existing priority government projects and programs that require additional funding. The investigation seeks to determine whether these uses of public funds constitute technical malversation, where public funds are used for a public purpose that differed—in a very technical sense—from the original plan,” added the DBM.