OSG to defend DAP as SC hearing resumes tomorrow

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 27 2014 08:04 AM | Updated as of Jan 27 2014 04:04 PM

MANILA - When the Supreme Court (SC) resumes oral arguments on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) tomorrow, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) will prove that President Aquino’s discretionary fund is legal.

The OSG said the DAP is a necessary implication of the President’s authority as chief executive pursuant to the Constitution, and that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is expressly empowered to issue rules and regulations to carry into full effect laws relating to matters within its jurisdiction for the achievement of more economy and efficiency in the management of government operations.

“The President, through the DBM, implemented the DAP in order to accelerate public spending, push economic growth, and promote prudent fiscal management,” the OSG said. “This is a plain executive policy-making, nothing more.”

The Constitution authorizes the President to “augment any item in the general appropriations law for [his] office from the savings in other items of [his] appropriations,” the OSG said.

In an earlier comment, the OSG said the DAP came from “legitimately generated savings of the government and the Unprogrammed Fund authorized in any relevant GAA.”

The OSG has asked the SC to postpone the scheduled second oral arguments tomorrow to March 25 because its collaborating counsel, retired SC Justice Vicente Mendoza, needed more time to prepare.

However, the SC did not grant the request, but allowed Mendoza to present his case – as counsel for Congress – on Feb. 18.

The OSG also asked the SC to give them until March 18 to comply with the order for the DBM to submit “a list of the sources of funds brought under the DAP, the uses of such funds pursuant to DAP per project and the legal bases thereof.”

The DBM did not have enough time to prepare the documents as it was busy preparing for the 2014 national budget and contributing to “unified effort to provide immediate relief and rehabilitation to the affected areas in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda,” the OSG added.

The SC partly granted the request and gave the respondent a non-extendible period of 15 days from today to submit the required documents.

Nine petitions before the SC are questioning the DAP’s legality.

Petitioners accused the government of employing dilatory tactics in the SC case.

In a joint statement last week, eight of the petitioners said the government action was an “orchestrated move to unduly delay” the resolution of their consolidated petitions.