A group of concerned citizens on Thursday asked the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate, prosecute and suspend all officials involved in the implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The petitioners—Greco Beda Belgica, Bishop Rueben Abante and lawyer Manuelito Luna—were among those who questioned the legality of the DAP at the Supreme Court. The High Court declared the disbursement program unconstitutional in July this year.
Lawyer Vicente Joya, National President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and
Josefina Chua, National President of the Philippine Instritute of Certified Public Accountants, also signed the appeal.
In a three-page letter addressed to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, the group asked the anti-graft office to probe President Benigno Aquino 3rd, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and other Cabinet members, senators and congressmen, heads of implementing agencies, bureaus and offices and heads of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), government financial institutions (GFI)s and state universities and colleges (SUCs), Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Commission on Audit (COA).
However, Aquino has immunity from criminal prosecution.
Citing SC Associate Justice Arturo Brion’s separate opinion on the DAP ruling, the petitioners said records show that DAP involves funds amounting to P150 billion “or almost 15 times the PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] case.”
“In these trying times where the other institutions of government could no longer be trusted, the people could turn to the Ombudsman to do the right thing” the group said in their letter.
They noted that the Ombudsman is mandated to investigate and prosecute offenses committed by public officials and employees.
Morales has said that her office will probe transactions under DAP which the Palace said was intended to address poverty.
“In light of the Supreme Court’s Decision on the DAP case, we are initiating an investigation into the matter,” she said a day after the SC handed down its ruling on DAP.
In a statement that day, the Office of the Ombudsman said that it will form a panel of field investigators to look into DAP transactions “to see if any crime or offense has been committed by involved public officials.”
The Ombudsman has yet to make a report on its DAP investigation.