SolGen: DAP is extinct; pleas are moot

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 28 2014 04:18 PM | Updated as of Jan 29 2014 10:49 AM

MANILA - The Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is a policy measure by the Executive Department that has already been stopped, and now "extinct," Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza told justices of the Supreme Court (SC) during the continuation of oral arguments into 9 petitions that seek to strike down the DAP as unconstitutional.

Jardeleza said the DAP has already served its purpose -- that of boosting government spending at a time when it was needed, specifically, during the first quarter of 2011 up to 2013.

At the start of the Aquino administration, Malacanan said there were a lot of inefficiencies in the implementation of projects, and considerable underspending that subsequently led to the slowdown of the economy.

Jardeleza said that the 9 anti-DAP petitions are now rendered moot and must be dismissed.

"DAP as a program no longer exists, thereby mooting these present cases that challenge its constitutionality. Any constitutional challenge should no longer be at the level of the program, which is now extinct, but at the level of its prior applications or the specific disbursements under this now defunct policy," Jardeleza argued before the high court.

On Tuesday morning, the OSG submitted to the high court a list of 116 "uses of DAP" or DAP-funded projects.

Jardeleza said these projects and the corresponding DAP releases were all authorized by President Aquino.

This should put to rest questions on whether DAP-funded projects had the green light and authorization of the President, Jardeleza stressed.

"Ang DAP po ay legal at constitutional batay sa sagot sa tatlong tanong: una, ang DAP ba ay may pahintulot o approval ng Pangulong Aquino batay sa kagustuhan ng Konstitusyon? Ang sagot ay oo.'

"Pangalawang tanong: meron bang tinatawag na appropriation cover o meron bang nakabatay sa budget ng kongreso ang bawat gamit ng DAP? Ang sagot po meron: lahat ng 116 na gamit sa DAP ay may bahay o otorisasyon sa budget o General Appropriations Act. '

"Pangatlong tanong: meron bang savings para sa mga nilaan para sa DAP? Ang sagot, meron," Jardeleza said.
The chief government counsel challenged petitioners to question any of the 116 DAP-funded projects, confident that all of these will stand legal scrutiny.

"We challenge the petitioners to pick and choose which among the 116 DAP projects they wish to nullify, the full details of which we shall provide on Feb. 5," Jardeleza said.

DAP IN KEEPING WITH THE CONSTITUTION

DAP is not a fund, not a new program, and is in accordance with the Constitution, argued Jardeleza and Budget Secretary Butch Abad

Both stressed that DAP was employed by the administration as a stimulus program to "use savings to augment other budgetary items in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA)."

The use of savings to augment government programs falls within the authority of the President under the 1987 Constitution, they added.

"The President is the principal constitutional officer tasked with the duty to formulate and implement the national budget as an instrument of national development," Jardeleza argued.

Abad told the magistrates that the DAP made possible a spurred economic growth, improved credit ratings, a rise in the Philippines' global competitiveness, and allowed government to address important payables.

"During a time of great need, the President chose to respond by judiciously employing this executive prerogative over the budget provided for in the 1987 Constitution and used by previous administrations," he said.

Abad said that the administration continues to pursue game-changing reforms in Philippine budgeting, including the use of the GAA as a release document without any need for the usual Special Allotment Release Order (SARO).