A FORMER lawmaker feared a delay in the hearing of the petitions against the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) before the Supreme Court (SC) will give the government time to lobby for votes favoring its constitutionality.

“It is said by many that the necessary number of votes favoring the DAP is not yet secured. The ‘walkers’ (influence peddlers) are still working on their mission of ‘conversion’ and they need more time to complete it,” said former Iloilo Representative Augusto Syjuco in an opposition on Monday to Malacañang’s motion to reset the second round of oral argument from January 28 to March 25.

The Palace cited two grounds for the postponement.

First, that their collaborating counsel, retired SC Justice Vicente Mendoza, has to study the case and second, that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) could not submit DAP-related documents because it had been pre-occupied with the 2014 budget and the rehabilitation plans for calamity-stricken areas last year.

Syjuco, however, said Mendoza entered the case as early as December or more than a month before the scheduled hearing. He said the one-month preparation is “more than enough” for Mendoza to “intelligently and competently” defend the government.

If Mendoza is not really ready to argue before the SC, Syjuco said it is a matter to be declared personally by the retired magistrate and not the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

As for the listing of sources of funds and their disbursements under the DAP, the former legislator recalled that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad assured the High Court during the first hearing last November 19 that he will submit those documents before the December 10 scheduled debate.

But the hearing was transferred to January 28 to give Malacañang and Congress a chance to engage lawyers other than the OSG.

“There is no need for a substantial period of time for its preparation. This is a matter of record. All he (Abad) needs to do is retrieve the record, place it in a summarized and itemized form and submit the same to the Supreme Court. Simple, is it not?” said Syjuco.

Aside from Syjuco, Kabataan Representative Terry Ridon, a member of the militant Makabayan bloc, said they will oppose the government’s request.

The petitioners claimed that DAP is unconstitutional since no law was passed by Congress that sanctions its appropriation and disbursement, the so-called “savings” were allegedly taken from slow-moving projects which were not yet completed or performed and it was and is being used to augment new budget allocations not approved by the legislature.

But the government said the President has the power to re-align savings, which went to projects to boost the economy from late 2011 onwards. (Sunnex)