Senators to Palace: Explain where DAP went

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Monday, July 14, 2014


NO WAY that President Benigno Aquino III will say sorry in connection with the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), an administration ally said on Monday.

Senator Francis Escudero said the Chief Executive maintained he did not steal anything from the people and DAP has been used for the benefit of the Filipino people.

The senator, however, said Aquino should give the necessary details of DAP spending, which the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional.

At the same time, Escudero said it should be Budget Secretary Florencio Abad who should do the talking in order to explain to the people where the DAP funds really went and how they came up with such an idea.

Abad is being tagged as the principal architect of the DAP.

Senator Sergio Osmena III said the first thing that Aquino should do is really to deliver a speech before his scheduled State of the Nation Address (Sona) and explain to the people everything about DAP.

"The Sona has to be prospective, it should talk about the legislative agenda, what he would do in the last two years of his term. Dapat tanggalin na (ang DAP) sa Sona. He should resolve that issue first," Osmena said.

Osmena said there is nothing wrong if Aquino will do the now famous "I am sorry" of former President Arroyo in order to appease the Filipino people.

But Osmena said he is doubtful that Aquino will do such a thing but he reminded the President to consider the real pulse of the Filipino.

"I think that we have to judge the people’s pulse, and they’re looking for somebody to blame. And normally, a loyal knight would fall on his sword for the king, hindi ba? Hindi naman hara kiri, hindi naman suicide, but he would fall on his sword, like Secretary Bobby Romulo who had no direct involvement in the Flor Contemplacion case, but he took the blame and said, 'Sige, mag-re-resign na lang ako," Osmena said.

Osmena said the Supreme Court is seemingly passing the buck, "but the liability, as explained by the decision of the Supreme Court, they just ordered all the investigative bodies to determine the liability, whether it's criminal, civil or administrative."

He further said that not even the highest court can decide on who can be held liable on the DAP issue.

"The Supreme Court is not a trier of facts. Pag facts, it's up to the lower courts. You usually elevate your case to the Supreme Court on a point of law. That’s how they wash their hands. ‘Labag sa batas iyan pero hindi namin alam kung sino ang guilty eh. We have asked the investigative agencies to determine that," Osmena III said.

Osmena expressed belief that although the President right now is facing trial due to DAP, there is no way that he cannot finish his term until 2016 although his net approval rating has gone down to +25.

The senator from Cebu said any impeachment complaint against the Chief Executive will be a futile effort.

At least two impeachment complaints against President Aquino will be filed this week in the House of Representatives for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said youth groups and student organizations are expected to file their impeachment complaint on Thursday in connection with the illegal P177-billion DAP while the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan will file their own complaint the day before or Wednesday.

Both impeachment complaints are guaranteed to be endorsed by at least one House member.

Osmena III said this move will never prosper.

" Wala iyan. That will not prosper. Marami naman diyan may galit sa kanya, kaya file lang ng file ng impeachment complaint." Osmena III said.

Meanwhille, Escudero noted that the Supreme Court had directed the executive department not to continue with a project if the funds were not yet released or there are no supplied equipment from the supplier or the contractor. “That’s part of the decision,” he said.

Information he received, added the senator, indicated that the Palace had issued a directive stopping all DAP-funded projects, including those not yet begun, in compliance with the court ruling.

Escudero who chairs the Senate committee on finance chairman has summoned Department of Budget and Management Sec. Butch Abad to appear before the Senate to explain DAP, but Abad argued that he can only appear if the President gives his go-signal.

Nonetheless, Escudero also advised Sec. Abad to attend the scheduled public hearing of the Senate committee on finance on July 21, 2014 and bring the breakdown of the list of DAP projects which the panel had repeatedly sought from DBM.

“They submitted it to the court but it’s not broken down by SARO, by project – that’s what we in the committee want to get,” Escudero said.

“Actually, it’s in their interest to explain fully and put closure to DAP issues because if they don’t, they will be grilled about these anyway once hearings on the 2015 budget are conducted,” he added.

“DAP is not all wrong, but we are seeking answers to the disbursements which fall in the category found as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court,” Escudero said.

President Aquino on Friday announced he is not accepting Abad’s resignation.

The President said the DBM Secretary did nothing wrong in implementing the DAP, which he stressed has helped spur the country’s economic growth.

According to Abad, the President explained that accepting his resignation “was tantamount to acknowledging wrongdoing on my end, contrary to the fact that the DAP — as conceived and implemented — proved beneficial to the country’s economy and the Administration’s bid for rapid and inclusive growth.”

And although he was prepared to relinquish his post, Abad said he is grateful for the President’s expression of his “continuing trust and confidence in my leadership of the Department.”

“I have thus chosen to defer to his better judgment and stay,” he said.

“I am determined, as I have always been, to do justice to the President’s faith in my integrity and competence,” he added.

Abad said the DBM will now carry out its responsibilities with “greater vigilance and meticulousness.”

“Developments over the last year were not merely instructive; they now spur us within the DBM to carry out our responsibilities with greater vigilance and meticulousness,” he said. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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