MANILA - A law expert on Wednesday said President Benigno Aquino III may not be charged over his usage of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, dean of San Beda Graduate School of Law, said attempts to charge the president and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad over the DAP may not prosper because a Supreme Court ruling declaring it unconstitutional only came long after the demise of the controversial funds.
''Iyung paggamit ng DAP, iyung paglikom ng mga savings at pag-transfer mo sa miyembro ng Kongreso, siguro 'di mo pwedeng kasuhan kasi masasabi mo talaga na hindi niya alam na talagang labag sa Saligang Batas kasi kinailangan natin ang isang desisyon ng Korte Suprema na maglinaw sa usapin na ito,'' Aquino said.
Aquino also explained that the high court ''seems to have made a pronouncement on the so-called 'prospectivity' of this decision."
''Ibig sabihin magmula ngayon di niyo gagalawin ang mga ginagalaw niyo noon. Pero kung may nangyari na sa nakaraaan at iyan ay nagawa in good faith, ay hindi mo magagamit ang decision ng Korte Suprema na basehan para mapanagot mo sa hukuman ang isang opisyal,'' he said.
Aquino, however, said the President may still be charged for allegedly using the DAP to bribe senators to vote for the ouster of then Supreme Court chief justice Renato Corona.
''Iyun ang pwedeng ikaso sa kanya kasi alam niya man na labag sa Saligang Batas [ang DAP] o hindi, maling-mali pa rin na gagamitin mo ang pera na galing sa kaban ng bayan para maimpluwensyahan ang isang desisyon,'' he said.
The high court earlier declared the following acts and practices under the DAP as unconstitutional:
a) The withdrawal of unobligated allotment from the implementing agencies and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the General Appropriation Acts
b) The cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the Executive
c) Funding of projects and activities and programs that were not covered by any appropriation in the GAA
The SC also declared void the use of unprogrammed funds despite the absence of a certification by the National Treasurer that the revenue collections exceeded the revenue targets for noncompliance with the conditions provided by the GAA.
The discretionary fund earlier hit the headlines when Senator Jinggoy Estrada bared that several senators received some P50 million to P100 million supposedly in exchange for voting to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Estrada had questioned the “persecution” he has received for allegedly diverting his pork barrel, the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), to bogus nongovernment organizations.
The PDAF, which was also a discretionary fund, has since been declared unconstitutional by the SC.
Malacanang, through the Department of Budget and Management, denied the DAP was used to bribe the senators.