Ombudsman orders former President Aquino to comment on DAP case
06 April 2017
The Special Panel of Investigators has issued an Order directing all parties, including former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, to comment on the Motions for Reconsideration filed by complainants in relation to the investigation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Records show that on 13 March 2017, complainants Carlos Isagani Zarate, et. al. and former DBM Secretary Florencio Abad, filed their Motions for Reconsideration questioning the Ombudsman’s 07 March 2017 Decision.
It will be recalled that in its Decision, the Ombudsman found probable cause to charge Abad with violation of Article 239 (Usurpation of Legislative Powers) of the Revised Penal Code. The charge stemmed from Abad’s issuance of National Budget Circular (NBC) No. 541 to carry out the implementation of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) involving P72 billion. NBC No. 541 authorizes the withdrawal of unobligated allotments of agencies with low levels of obligations as of 30 June 2012.
During the investigation, the Ombudsman found that by issuing NBC No. 541, Abad unlawfully encroached on the powers of Congress by effectively modifying the provisions on savings of the 2012 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
According to the Ombudsman, “NBC No. 541 provided the principal bases for the withdrawal of unobligated allotments which were declared as savings and used to fund PAPs (programs, activities and projects) under the DAP. The issuance of this circular is an act of usurpation. This is contrary to law.”
In 2014, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the following acts committed in pursuance of the DAP: (1) withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies; and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the GAA; and (2) the cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive Department to augment the appropriations of other offices outside that department.
Under Article 239 of the RPC, the penalties of prision correccional in its minimum period, temporary special disqualification, shall be imposed upon an executive or judicial officer who shall encroach upon the powers of the legislative branch of the Government, either by making general rules or regulations beyond the scope of his authority, or by attempting to repeal a law or suspending the execution thereof.
The parties to the DAP cases, including Aquino, have 15 days from notice within which to file comment. ###