FORMER Iloilo congressman Augusto Syjuco Jr. on Monday asked the Supreme Court to declare the creation and implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional and illegal.
In a petition for Prohibition, Mandamus and Certiorari, Syjuco urged the Court to order the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to freeze the DAP and recommend the filing of criminal and administrative cases against Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad and Senate President Franklin Drilon “for their illegal and unconstitutional acts.”
He said the tribunal should order Drilon to return the P100-million DAP funds released to him in 2012 before the Senate convicted chief justice Renato Corona.
Syjuco has filed two plunder charges against Drilon in connection with the alleged construction of the Iloilo Hall of Justice and the Iloilo airport.
He was the second petitioner to question the legality of DAP before the Suprene Court. The first was former Manila councilor Greco Belgica.
“For DAP, the alleged savings generated by the executive department was not a surplus of budget. The funds funneled to the DAP were re-aligned budgets from slow moving items, to items or project which the Executive branch deemed appropriate and were not originally used to finance a particular project wherein a surplus was realized,” Syjuco said.
“Savings should be funds remaining from already paid and completed projects or line budgets. This is the definition of the word savings as provided in the above quoted of the provisions of our Constitution. But if the money was never used in the first place, like in the case of DAP funds, then it cannot be classified as savings. Hence, it is on this equal reason that DAP creation and implementation is unconstitutional and illegal,” he added.
Syjuco said that through DAP, “P137.3 billion was released as of October 1, 2013.”
He said the amount includes the P82.5 billion released in 2011 and the P54.8 billion released in 2012 which Abad himself admitted.
The DBM has said that DAP was created through the constitutional power of the President to augment savings as provided in Article VI, Section 25 (5) of the 1987 Constitution in relation to Book VI, Chapter 5, Section 49 of the Revised 1987 Administrative Code.
Syjuco alleged that Drilon, then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, orchestrated the use and disbursements from DAP since P1 billion was released for the impeachment of Corona.
He cited three reasons why the DAP should be declared unconstitutional: no law was passed and promulgated for its creation, no law sanctions the appropriation, disbursement and release of public funds under DAP, the funds were drawn from the budgets of slow moving projects which were not completed or performed, and are therefore not savings, and the DAP was and is being used to augment new budget allocations or list not approved by Congress.
Drilon, dismissed the petition, saying it was politically motivated.
“I suspect that my inclusion in the petition is but part of a highly-financed black propaganda by Syjuco and his cohorts to discredit me. This is an attempt to make the Supreme Court a venue for political mudslinging,” he said.
He said Syjuco manipulated facts to suit his “ill intention” to besmirch his reputation.
Drilon also considers the petition as a clear effort by Syjuco’s camp to muddle the issue of the DAP funds and divert public attention from the anomalies involving the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The Senate chief said DAP allocations were not given to senators in cold cash since legislators only recommended projects to be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
“I can account for every peso that was allocated for these projects and I do not have a history of malfeasance and misuse of government funds. I am sure that not a single centavo was channeled to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) linked to Janet Lim-Napoles,” he stressed.
It was Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada who disclosed on the Senate floor that senators received additional DAP funds as reward for voting to convict Corona. Records from the Department of Budget also showed that funds were also released to members of the House of Representatives, including those who were in the prosecution panel during the Corona trial.