Butch Abad, Cesar Purisima and Mar Roxas. Composite Image
MANILA - Did Budget Secretary Butch Abad bypass his Cabinet colleagues in securing approval for the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)?
"I do not… I’m not aware of the processes involved so I cannot say if he went straight to the President directly. I remember once that we were in a meeting where we discussed a DAP authorization. That’s what I remember in the presence of some of the Cabinet officials," Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
Abad is a member of the Liberal Party (LP), which reportedly comprises the Balay group of President Aquino's Cabinet.
The group is composed of supporters of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and the Hyatt 10, Cabinet members who quit the arroyo Cabinet in 2005 at the height of the "Hello, Garci" scandal.
Executive Secretary Paquito "Jojo" Ochoa, on the other hand, is identified with the Samar group of supporters of Aquino. Members of this group include close friends and family of the President as well as Vice President jejomar Binay.
Normally, all documents reaching the Office of the President go through the Executive Secretary who does a final pass on the documents prior to the signature of the President.
Abad is widely credited for the DAP but the Palace has said it had the imprimatur of the economic managers in the Development Budget Coordinating Committee, which is led by Finance Secretary and Balay stalwart Cesar Purisima.
President Aquino and Budget Secretary Butch Abad have remained mum almost a week after the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional the P140 billion DAP.
DAP authorization documents show President Aquino signing the memos that authorized the implementation of DAP-funded projects, save for a few which were the subject of accompanying marginal notes.
The Philippine Star also reported that former legal adviser Ed Mesa was quoted as saying he was not consulted when DAP was being approved.
Asked about this, Lacierda said: "With respect to Ed Mesa saying, no, I have no basis...I had an occasion to be in a meeting where one particular DAP project was discussed so... And there was no factionalism there. So I think that’s inaccurate to say that there was factionalism involved. That’s not true."
The President's spokesman defended the executive from observations that the Palace maybe getting bad legal advice.
"We have a divergence of opinions with the Supreme Court. We have our own way of looking at things. It just so happens… This is not a question of whether you have a bad legal advice. It's a question of the primacy of one institution over the other. We are called to execute the laws. The legislative is called to make laws and the Supreme Court is called to decide and make—and interpret the law in deciding cases. So the primacy of the… The main mandate of the Supreme Court is to decide where the law should be. So we sometimes agree with each other. We have a number of cases that the Supreme Court has already found and agreed with us."
"There are other cases where the Supreme Court and the executive branch may differ. So it’s a question of how one looks at the law, not so much where—does the President have a bad legal team because it’s always… The institution has the final say. If you change it the other way around… If the executive branch has the final say, it might not be correct to say that the other branches have a bad legal team. It’s because the separation of powers provide that the Supreme Court has the final say on what the law is.”