CA affirms DAP ruling vs Florencio Abad
MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld its earlier ruling finding former budget secretary Florencio Abad administratively liable for simple misconduct in the implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which has been declared illegal by the Supreme Court.
In a four-page resolution, the Court of Appeals’ former special 14th Division through Associate Justice Zenaida Galapate-Laguilles said that no new arguments were raised by Abad to warrant the reversal of its February 27, 2019 decision which upheld the findings of the Ombudsman that the former budget secretary should be held accountable for simple misconduct.
“After a review of the grounds relied upon by the petitioner, this Court finds no compelling reason to amend or our decision as the issues raised have already been resolved and covered extensively in the assailed resolution,” the CA said.
Reiterating its February ruling, the appeals court said the former budget secretary encroached on the powers of Congress when he issued National Budget Circular 541that modified provisions on savings in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2012.
The Circular consolidates savings or unutilized balances and withdraws unobligated balances of agencies with low levels of obligations. It has provided the principal bases for the withdrawal of unobligated allotments which were declared as savings and used to fund programs, activities, and projects under the DAP.
“Thus, Abad may not successfully evade liability by invoking good faith. While Abad’s desire to fast track public spending and push economic growth is laudable and the implementation of the DAP, in fact undeniably yielded positive results that enhance the economic welfare of the country his defenses cannot override the clear mandate of the law,” the appeals court said.
It added that: “As a responsible public officer, Abad ought to have been well aware that he has no authority to overrule the requirements of established rules and the fundamental law of the land.”
In 2014, the Supreme Court declared DAP as unconstitutional, specifically on the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies; the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year without complying with the statutory definition of savings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 the cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the executive branch.
Since Abad is no longer in public service and may not be suspended anymore, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to his three-month salary.
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