Programs, activities, projects under DAP will remain valid — SC

By Perfecto T. Raymundo

MANILA, July 3 (PNA) — The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that the programs, activities and projects where Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) was used can no longer be undone and will remain valid.

However, the SC said, the authors, implementors and proponents of DAP should be held liable unless they can prove that they acted in “good faith”.

On the other hand, the SC justices are not biting the claim of Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad that he does not know the legal implications of the DAP.

Abad is the author of Budget Circular No. 541, the so-called “bible for DAP.”

The circular has been declared unconstitutional by the SC.

“As a lawyer and with at least 12 years of experience behind him as a congressman who was even the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, it is inconceivable that he did not know the illegality or unconstitutionality that tainted his brainchild,” Associate Justice Arturo Brion said in his separate opinion.

“Consider, too, in this regard that all appropriations, revenue and tariff bills emanate from the Lower House so that the Chair of the Appropriations Committee cannot but be very knowledgeable about the budget, its processes and technicalities. In fact, the Secretary likewise knows budgeting from the other end, i.e. from the user end as DBM Secretary…With all these knowledge, it is not hard to believe that he can run circles around the budget and its processes, and did, in fact, purposely use this knowledge for the administration’s objective of gathering the very sizable funds collected under the DAP,” Brion said.

Brion also took note that Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio “had occasion to cite examples of why Secretary Abad could not have been in good faith.”

Carpio said that the DBM implemented DAP contrary to SC decisions on savings and the power to realign.

He added that while the DBM through Abad told the SC during the one of the oral arguments that the Bureau of Treasury had certified that revenue collections for fiscal year 2011, 2012 and 2013 exceeded original revenue targets, they failed to present evidence to prove their claim.

Brion also took note that Abad, when questioned by Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, during one of the oral arguments admitted that fund transfers made to the Commission on Audit and the House of Representatives pushed through despite constitutional prohibition.

“In this light, we should take the utmost care in what we declare as it can have far reaching effects. Worse, for this Court, any advocacy or mention of presumption of good faith may be characterized as an undue and underserved deference to the Executive, implying that the rule of law, separation of powers and checks and balances may have been compromised in this country,” he said. (PNA)