MANILA – Various groups filed a technical malversation case against former President Benigno Aquino III and former Budget Secretary Florencio 'Butch' Abad over the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Since Aquino is no longer immune from suit, various militant groups led by Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Secretary-General Renato M. Reyes, Jr. went to the Office of the Ombudsman on Friday to file a technical malversation complaint against the former leader and Abad.
''The DAP was nothing more than presidential pork taken from forced savings then realigned for pet projects of the President,'' Zarate said.
''It was not a stimulus program as many of the projects approved by Aquino had nothing to do with stimulating the economy. It was presidential pork used to entice lawmakers to impeach then convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona."
In 2014, the Supreme Cout (SC) ruled against the DAP, and it affirmed its initial ruling in February 2015.
The high court said it was unconstitutional to withdraw unobligated allotments from implementing agencies and declare the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year without complying with the definition of savings contained in the General Appropriations Act.
The SC also argued that cross-border transfers of savings of the executive department to offices outside the executive were unconstitutional.
However, the SC granted Aquino and Abad's plea and declared as legal the funding of projects, activities, programs that were not covered by appropriations in the General Appropriations Act.
The SC said projects under DAP prior to the SC ruling were legal under the "operative fact" doctrine.
It also said the authors of the DAP may be held liable but not its proponents and implementors.
The complainants also include Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) National Chairperson Benjamin Valbuena, Confederation For Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) President Ferdinand Gaite, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) Founding Chairman/President Dante Jimenez, Mae P. Paner of the Juana Change Movement, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Philipinas (KMP) Secretary General Antonio Flores, GABRIELA Secretary General Joan Mae Salvador, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) National Chairperson Gloria G. Arellano and Philippine Heart Center Employees Association-Alliance of Health Workers President Bonifacio S. Carmona, Jr.
DAP GAINS, IMPEACH CORONA
At the height of the controversy over the pork barrel scam and the DAP, Aquino and Abad were accused of usurping the legislative power of the purse by realigning the budget after its enactment and declaring certain funds as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year.
Critics sought to impeach Aquino over the controversial program but the former leader's allies in Congress blocked the move.
Aquino and Abad had argued that the DAP was meant to accelerate government spending. They said the program boosted the economic growth.
However, then-Senator Jinggoy Estrada said the DAP was used to buy the votes of senators for the ousting of then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona through impeachment.