Bayan Muna insists on Aquino indictment over DAP

Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 14 2017 06:51 PM

Militant party-list group Bayan Muna asked the Ombudsman anew to indict former President Benigno Aquino III over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Citing "errors" on the Ombudsman's decision, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate and other complainants said Aquino and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad should also face graft and technical malversation charges over the P72-billion DAP in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

They filed a motion for reconsideration asking the Ombudsman to overturn its decision last week which cleared Aquino of administrative and criminal charges, and Abad of graft and technical malversation charges.

The Ombudsman's March 7 decision however found Abad liable for the crime of usurpation of legislative powers.

The complainants insisted that while only Abad was found liable of usurpation of legislative powers, Aquino was also a party to Abad's crime by approving various DAP issuances---including the memorandum which modified the meaning of "savings."

Zarate and his co-complainants said the Ombudsman erred when it decided that Aquino and Abad "cannot be indicted for technical malversation since they did not "apply" public funds to other purposes," and because they are not accountable officers.

But according to the complainants, Aquino, as chief executive, and Abad, as budget secretary, are the "administrators of the entirety of the national budget."

"The roles of Aquino and Abad could not be discounted as mere "policy-makers" of the DAP scheme. Rather, the policy direction chosen by Respondents [Aquino and Abad] are the raisons d'etre of the DAP. Thus, it is the error for the Honorable Office of the Ombudsman to dismiss their participation as mere "policy-makers," their acts are evidence to the fact that they are indeed the administrators of the entire national budget," the motion read.

The motion emphasized Aquino and Abad, as "masterminds or authors" of DAP, directed the application of funds to PAPs---"which make them principals by direct participation in the crime of technical malversation."

The complainants also disagreed with the Ombudsman's findings that there were no elements of graft in Aquino and Abad's actions on DAP.

"When their funds were prematurely withdrawn and declared as savings, and without compliance with the General Appropriations Act (GAA), they lost the spending power to hire and give them their benefits at the right time...the spending power to hire contractual and casual employees and job order contract of service personnel to augment their regular complement, their ability to themselves declare savings at the end of the year, to fund collective negotiation incentives and deficiencies in personnel benefits as authorized by the GAAs, among others," the motion added.

The complainants also asked the Ombudsman to elevate Abad's administrative sanction from simple misconduct to grave misconduct.

In February 2015, the Supreme Court affirmed its earlier ruling on the controversial Aquino administration program and clarified that parts of DAP were unconstitutional.