MANILA - The Palace said it needs more time to prepare for the oral arguments in the Supreme Court on the disbursement acceleration program (DAP), thus the request to have the schedule reset.
"We want to ensure that preparations for the oral arguments would be at that point, at that level where we are confident that we can amply defend the side of government," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) asked the high court to reset the continuation of the oral arguments on nine petitions assailing the constitutionality of the DAP.
The second oral argument is set on Jan. 28, which was rescheduled from Dec. 10 last year upon the request of the Senate and House of Representatives to allow them to get their own lawyers, separate from the OSG.
The OSG, which represents Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad in the case, told the high court it would not be ready with its defense of the assailed funds and sought to reset the debate to March 25.
The government has tapped the services of retired SC Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza as collaborating counsel in the case. The OSG said Mendoza “needs additional time to review the documents to be submitted by the DBM to prepare for the oral arguments.”
The OSG said their motion is not intended to delay the proceedings and is meant solely to allow the respondents to provide the SC with a “coherent, verified and diligently prepared set of evidence packets” to help understand the factual bases of the DAP.
The OSG also sought more time to comply with the high court’s order for the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to submit on or before Jan. 21 a list of the sources of funds brought under the DAP, the uses of such funds pursuant to DAP per project or activity and its legal bases.
Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza asked the SC in the same motion to give them until March 18 to comply with the order, saying the DBM did not have enough time to prepare the documents as it was busy preparing for the 2014 national budget and efforts to provide immediate relief and rehabilitation to areas affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda. With reports by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News; and The Philippine Star