Crowdsourced petition to question DAP releases constitutionality-A A +A
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago will initiate a crowd-sourced petition in social media to encourage “young and idealistic” lawyers to question before the Supreme Court the constitutionality of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Santiago said she would like to know if it is legal for the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to “discriminate among senators,” in terms of amounts that had been released last year.
While all other senators received an average of P50 million, then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile got P92 million, Senator Francis Escudero had P99 million and Senator Franklin Drilon received P100 million.
"In releasing funds, the executive branch cannot play favorites when carrying out constitutional commands such as social justice, social services, and equal work opportunities. The DAP releases, flawed as they were from the very beginning, played favorites among senators. That was clearly unconstitutional," she said, citing violation of the Constitution’s equal protection clause.
The senator on Monday asked the Commission on Audit (COA) to conduct a special audit on the DAP on the heels of Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s revelation last week that he and his colleagues received at least P50 million after ousting then Chief Justice Renato Corona in the impeachment trial in May 2012.
Enrile, Drilon and Escudero did not explain why they got more than the others, but merely defended themselves that they spent the money on public projects. By contrast, each representative allegedly received P15 million.
Those who were not given any additional pork from the DAP were Santiago, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and Senator Joker Arroyo, who all voted against impeachment.
Arroyo even accused Budget Secretary Florencio Abad of falsification of legislative documents for claiming that the former lawmaker received P47 million from the DAP for infrastructure projects and medical assistance activities across the country.
Abad, however, insisted that Arroyo’s projects were funded by DAP.
Santiago said every senator who voted to convict, and every representative who voted to indict, if each one is shown to have received additional pork during and immediately after the impeachment trial, are presumably guilty of bribery, because of the close timing between the two events.
She said that under the Article 204 of the Revised Penal Code, each senator or representative was guilty of the crime of "knowingly rendering unjust judgment."
But it remains to be seen if Corona’s conviction will be reversed, considering the lack of precedent.
DAP, which was taken from savings of the government, was part of the government’s catch-up spending to lift the economy. The economy slowed to 3.9 percent in 2011, the year the DAP was introduced, before it zoomed to 6.6 percent last year.(Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)