MANILA - Malacanang is unapologetic but is willing to face the Ombudsman's investigation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) after it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said the probe is "the duty of the Ombudsman."
"We acknowledge that it is well within the purview of their mandate," he said.
Coloma said the Palace is prepared to hand over what's necessary for the investigation. “We will comply with lawful and legal processes.”
He, however, indicated that the Palace isn’t inclined to apologize. “Iyan pong tanong na iyan na pagso-sorry, siyempre ‘pag sinabing magso-sorry ka may ginawa kang kasalanan. Wala po kaming ginawang kasalanan hinggil dito.”
Coloma left it to President Benigno Aquino to hold Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to be responsible for the DAP.
Abad is said to be the architect of the DAP -- a mechanism for withdrawing funds midyear from unimplemented projects and realigning the money to other projects.
Coloma also left it to investigators to determine if the DAP was indeed misused. "That would be part of the lawful processes to determine accountability."
He steered clear of talks of impeachment. "Iyun namang tungkol sa impeachment, ito ay proseso na nagaganap sa Kamara de Representantes, at hahayaan natin ang mga miyembro na magpasya rin hinggil diyan dahil ‘yon naman ay karapatan nila bilang hiwalay at kapantay na sangay ng pamahalaan."
This, amid reports that lawyer Oliver Lozano has filed an impeachment case against the President. "Siya po ay mamamayan ng Pilipinas at meron din po siyang mga karapatan sa ilalim ng ating batas."
Coloma also sidestepped a question on how Aquino can claim good faith in the DAP when he filed a bill as senator to prevent then President Gloria Arroyo from impounding funds.
“Kung tutunghayan natin ‘yung main decision, consisting of 92 pages and several concurring and dissenting opinions of the justices of the Supreme Court, we will readily see that they had a comprehensive discussion of all the issues. And that is why we say that we really would like to gain a more comprehensive understanding of all of those issues, rather than taking potshots here and there. We prefer that that is the best way to understand the decision and to adopt the necessary actions moving forward.”
He also held out the possibility that the Palace itself will investigate any misuse of DAP. "There are already built-in mechanisms for accountability, and committed as we are to the good governance principles, these are operative day after day and have never been suspended at any time. Araw-araw na ginagawa ang ating mga tungkulin, sinusunod natin ang mga patakaran, kaya kung merong may paglabag dapat ay mapanagot din dahil bahagi ‘yan ng prinsipyo ng mabuting pamamahala.”
Coloma said the Palace will study the Supreme Court ruling. "That is why we would like to understand fully the decision, because it’s really such a lengthy decision, and we want to be able to understand the ramifications and the implementation as a basis for appropriate action.”
He did say that ultimately, the President is responsible for the DAP. "In the final analysis, the President is the Chief Executive and the members of the Cabinet are alter-ego -- performed the role of alter-ego and whatever role that they perform is only an extension of the personality of the President himself."
'IN GOOD FAITH'
Coloma maintained the administration acted in good faith. “We affirm that in implementing the DAP, the executive branch exercised good faith and due diligence, in accordance with existing laws and pertinent auditing rules and procedures. We believe we have been abiding by and complying with such lawful processes. We will review the decision further to gain a more comprehensive understanding of its ramifications and study the appropriate legal options.”
“We note that the Supreme Court affirmed the authority of the President as Chief Executive to implement the DAP as a stimulus program to achieve economic growth and as an administrative system of prioritizing spending in the execution of the national budget. It is in the interpretation of the Constitution and applicable laws on the fine details of budget execution that the views of the executive and the Supreme Court diverged.”
Coloma said even the high court noted the benefits of the DAP. "We note further that in its decision, the High Tribunal stated—and I quote—'the implementation of the DAP yielded undeniably positive results that enhanced the economic welfare of the country. To count the positive results may be impossible but the visible ones, like public infrastructure, could easily include roads, bridges, homes for the homeless, hospitals, classrooms and the like. Not to apply the doctrine of operative fact to the DAP could literally cause the physical undoing of such worthy results by destruction and would result in most undesirable wastefulness.'"
He said DAP-funded projects went through due process. “We have exercised due diligence in implementing the various programs, activities, and projects included in the DAP and that we are abiding by and complying with all the legal processes, which also include pertinent auditing rules and procedures. That is our position."
Based on Bagong Alyansang Makabayan’s evidence packet, documents submitted by the Budget Department to the Supreme Court, the DAP that President Aquino authorized in separate memos from 2011 to 2013 was earmarked for projects which include:
October 12, 2011
LRTA rehab of LRT1 and 2 = P1.86B
NHA-resettlement of North Triangle Aesidents to Camarin, housing for BFP/BJMP, on-site development for families, relocation sites for informal settlers = P11.05B
OPAPP Pamana = P1.8B
DILG performance challenge fund = P250M
ARMM = P8.5B
DOTC MRT = P4.5B
LGU support fund = P6.5B
Various other local projects = P6.5B
Development assistance to the province of Quezon = P750M
June 25, 2012
DPWH-Tarlac National road projects = P2B
DOTC-Coast Guard for West Philippine Sea = P1.6B
DOTC LRTA rehab of LRT 1 = P1.4B
NEA rural electrification for barangays and sitios = P1B
House of Representatives construction of legislative library = P250M
December 12, 2011
DOST DREAM P= 1.6B
BA-NIA Jalaur river multipurpose project = P450M
MMDA solid waste management, urban renewal, traffic management, priority flood control = P230M, P154M, and P295M
DPWH = P159B
DILG special capacity building project for peoples and non-government organizations = P43B
LGU = P1.8B
PSG Malacanang security and communications plan = P248M
September 4, 2012
DILG central office = P100M
DILG 20 new PNP stations = P128M
High-profile jail facility = P20M
DOTC Coast Guard for Bajo de Masinloc = P44.17B
December 19, 2012
DPWH = P1.2B
Various priority infra projects = P2.75B
DILG local government performance management program, performance-based challenge fund = P253M
OPAPP DND-AFP, DPWH ARMM (PAMANA) = P745.46M
May 20, 2013
PNP hiring of 15,000 new personnel = P1.87B
PNP modernization = P2B
DPWH various priority infra projects = P1.3B
LGU other local projects = P4.6B
September 25, 2013
Typhoon Pablo = P10.53B
Coloma said DAP was proposed by a Cabinet cluster to the President.
"Kung babalangkasin natin iyong istruktura ng Gabinete hinggil diyan, iyong mayroong tuwirang partisipasyon hinggil sa mga bagay patungkol sa national budget ay iyong mga kasama doon sa DBCC, iyong Development Budget Coordinating Council at hawig naman iyong komposisyon niyan doon sa komposisyon ng economic cluster," he said. "Kaya iyong mga kasapi din ng economic cluster ay mayroong regular na partisipasyon sa pagbibigay ng input hinggil sa design and implementation of the national budget."