SC ruling on DAP cannot be used to impeach President Aquino — Speaker Belmonte

By Sammy F. Martin

MANILA, July 1 (PNA) — The decision made by the Supreme Court declaring portion of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as “unconstitutional” could not be used to impeach President Benigno Aquino III.

“No, he (President Aquino) cannot be impeached,” said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.,, in a text message on Tuesday when asked for a reaction on the High Court decision on DAP.

Belmonte said the SC decision is not retroactive and only explains that it only becomes effective from the time it was ruled.

This was also the view of Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo claiming that any impeachment filed on the basis of the SC decision has no basis in law or in jurisprudence.

According to the Constitution, Quimbo said, an offense may only be considered impeachable, if the violation of the Constitution is culpable.

“It is culpable according to jurisprudence if the violation is so blatant and clear that it smacks of an intentional violation of clear and unequivocal laws. There is nothing clear as far as the rules on how savings are to be used or allocated under our tripartite system. On the contrary, DAP was simply an attempt by the administration to formalize the practice being done by previous administrations. Prior to the decision, it was in fact legal. These circumstances clearly will not make DAP of such a character as to make it a culpable violation of the Constitution,” he explained.

When asked if Budget and Management Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad could be liable, the senior House official said, the DBM chief “cannot be held liable for any wrong-doing as the policy of DAP is founded on legal basis and was done in good faith.”

“One only becomes liable for willful and culpable violations of clear and indubitable rules. Any position to the contrary is not founded in law or jurisprudence,” he said.

For his p‎art, Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello said he thinks “the President is not in danger of impeachment.”

“The SC ruling is not retroactive but covers actions from the time of the ruling,” he noted.

Bello also stressed that the SC ruling “carries liability only from hereon, from the time of the ruling.”

“The SC ruling clarified the status of a practice. So the Executive now has a clear ruling on which to base its future actions,” he said. (PNA)