MANILA - Former national treasurer Leonor Briones believes President Benigno Aquino III committed a "mortal sin" when he approved the implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Speaking to radio dzMM, Briones said Aquino usurped the Congress' power of the purse when he transferred money not covered by any appropriation in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) to other agencies outside the executive.
"Trabaho ng legislature na siya ang mag-apruba ng Appropriations Act na may detalye. Ngayon, si Presidente na ang nag-decide kung saan niya ibibigay yung bagong pera niya sa DAP niya. So para na siyang legislature," she said.
"Kaya mortal sin yun dahil nasisira yung balance of powers," she added.
Last July 1, the Supreme Court (SC) declared several acts under the DAP as unconstitutional. It said cross-border or inter-branch transfer of funds is barred by the 1987 Constitution.
The high court stressed that what is allowed by the Constitution is the augmentation of appropriated items within the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as within Constitutional Commissions.
Briones pointed out that the Aquino administration's desire to spur the country's economic growth does not in any way justify the fact that it violated the Constitution by implementing an illegal program.
She also noted that if Aquino really wanted to hasten the release of funds to provide for the needs of the public, he should have instead used his Special Purpose Funds.
"Ang Presidente napakalaki ng Special Purpose Funds niya... Halimbawa, in 2014, abot ng P282 billion. So hindi kailangang maglabag siya ng Constitution para makamit yung objective niya."
"So ano kaya yung rason bakit nangyari ito? Hindi naman kailangan ang DAP para lang mapabilis ang ekonomiya," she said.
The former national treasurer also said the issue here is not whether Aquino stole public money through the DAP.
She stressed that even if the President did not gain a single centavo from the implementation of the program, he is still liable for any wrong done under the program.
"Walang kinalaman yan. Baka hindi siya ang nagnanakaw, pero hindi natin masasabi dun sa mga tumanggap ng pera na yan at hindi natin masasabi sa actual implementation," Briones said.
"Maski na hindi ka pinansyal na nakikinabang sa isang kontrata o desisyon, kung ikaw ang nagpasimuno niyan, kung ikaw ang nag-perpetuate niyan ay meron ka ring liability," she added.