MANILA (2ND UPDATE) - President Aquino has refused the resignation of Budget Secretary Florencio Butch Abad amid the brewing controversy over the disbursement acceleration program (DAP).
The President revealed this before the start of a Cabinet meeting where Abad was supposed to present the proposed 2015 national budget.
In his remarks, Aquino said: "Yesterday, Secretary Abad gave me a letter tendering his resignation from the Cabinet and I've considered the same and I've decided not to accept his resignation. Let me explain why."
"The notion in the current atmosphere is DAP was bad for our people. Even our most vociferous critics grant that DAP has benefited to our people. To accept his resignation is to assign to him a wrong and I cannot accept the notion that doing right by our people is a wrong. And I think the whole Cabinet should be made aware of this."
This is the first time Aquino addressed the matter of the DAP after the Supreme Court struck down parts of it as unconstitutional.
The acts considered unconstitutional include: withdrawal of unobligated allotments from implementing agencies in the middle of the fiscal year, cross-border transfers of the funds and funding of projects not included in the General Appropriations Act.
In the following days, his spokesmen have maintained that DAP was neither plundered nor squandered, and that it has benefited the public.
Malacanang has also vouched that Cabinet members implementing DAP programs are good people.
Malacanang has said it will account for DAP in due time as it mulls an appeal of the ruling. The SC decision invoked the doctrine of operative fact and asked implementors of the DAP to prove good faith in implementing the program.
Abad has yet to issue his own statement. Abad served as Aquino's campaign manager in the 2010 elections.
For his part, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes said Aquino's rejection of Abad's resignation shows that the President is still "in a state of denial regarding the illegality of the DAP."
"He is protecting Abad and in turn protecting himself. Let us all remember that Aquino and Abad are in the same boat as both signed the memos ordering the DAP releases. The President's retention of Abad is a stubborn defense of DAP and everything wrong with it, in the face of a clear, unanimous SC ruling. In his retention of Abad, the President is party to the cover-up of DAP misdeeds. It is utterly disgusting and strengthens calls for the impeachment of the President."
The meeting began with an opening prayer read by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita "Ging" Deles. In that prayer, DAP was identified as one of the issues now threatening to derail the President's "daang matuwid."