SC asked to declare DAP illegal | Inquirer News

SC asked to declare DAP illegal

A taxpayer asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to declare  unconstitutional the Discretionary Acceleration Program (DAP), a lump-sum fund controlled by Malacañang from which P50 million to P100 million was given to each senator who voted for the conviction in 2012 of then Chief Justice Renato Corona at his impeachment trial.

Also on Thursday, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said the administration’s release of millions of pesos to senators and representatives after Corona’s conviction made President Aquino impeachable for bribery and culpable violation of the Constitution.


Many members of the House of Representatives, which impeached Corona, got P10 million from the DAP following his conviction for culpable valuation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust because he did not declare his dollar accounts.

Santiago said her colleagues who received such entitlements for their respective projects could also be held liable for plunder if the DAP funds they received amounted to at least P50 million.


Gregor Belgica, a former senatorial candidate, told the high court that the DAP was “another prime example that the Chief Executive is given wide latitude and unbridled discretion in how discretionary funds such as . . . Malampaya Fund and Presidential Social Fund are disbursed.”

Belgica is also one of the petitioners in the high court questioning the constitutionality of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Presidential Social Funds, Aquino’s so-called pork barrel.

In an Oct. 1 reply to the comments made by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to the antipork barrel petitions, Belgica said these discretionary funds given to the President were unconstitutional.

Prohibited transfer

Belgica said the Constitution barred any law being passed authorizing the transfer of appropriation.

“The DAP directly violates this constitutional prohibition. The transfer of the DAP funds from the executive branch to the legislative branch is simply a prohibited transfer of appropriations,” he said.

Belgica noted that if Congress could not pass a law transferring appropriations, then this also applied to the President who could not issue an executive order transferring appropriations.


“What Congress cannot do directly, the President of the Philippines cannot do indirectly,” he said.

Belgica also contended that the transfer of funds from the executive branch to the legislative branch could not qualify as an augmentation of an item.

Sanchez v. COA

He noted the case of Sanchez v. COA in which the high court had provided requirements before funds may be realigned.

Belgica said the transfer of the DAP funds to Congress failed to meet the requirements set in the Sanchez v. COA case because, for one, there was no proof that the DAP funds were declared as savings.

Likewise, there was no showing that the transfer of funds was to augment an item of expenditure.

“Third and more importantly, the President can only augment an item of expenditure in his respective office from items of his respective office’s appropriations. He cannot augment an item of expenditure in another political branch of government,” he said.

Oct. 8 oral arguments

The Supreme Court has scheduled for Oct. 8 oral arguments on the petitions against the pork barrel system.

It has set three issues—PDAF, presidential pork barrel and the petition of the OSG for the partial lifting of the PDAF’s implementation—that it wants the petitioners and the OSG to present in their arguments.

Last month, the high court indefinitely suspended the implementation of the remaining PDAF for the year.

Impeachable in theory

On whether the release of the DAP was an impeachable offense on the part of Aquino, Santiago said it amounted to a culpable violation of the Constitution or bribery. “(I)n both cases he will become in theory impeachable.”

Santiago, nonetheless, said the country couldn’t afford another impeachment process.

“But [President Aquino] cannot be impeached in practice because he controls both the House and the Senate, and remember that people who want him impeached will have to get one-third vote in the House and two-thirds vote in the Senate,” she said.

“So, that is not going to be practical. That will only be theoretical.”

She said the President was immune from suit while in office. “After 2016 you can file a case against him for plunder,” she said on how Aquino could be held accountable.

Santiago, a former Regional Trial Court judge, earlier said the DAP releases were unconstitutional because they weren’t provided for under the national budget passed by Congress.


She said the disbursements constituted bribery even if they happened after the senators convicted Corona—the outcome that the Aquino administration had been pining for.

“Let us say the impeachment was in May or June and the allegation is that funds from the DAP were distributed in October, November and December. So, the argument is that the time interval between the crime of knowingly rendering unjust judgment was so long that you cannot connect the two,” Santiago said.

Mere promise

She said that was an erroneous reading of the Revised Penal Code. “The mere promise of a reward for the criminal action is already a ground for bribery under the code. So, it cannot be a reason. It is not acceptable to say that the money was given several months after the conviction of the impeachment trial.”

Santiago said that if the Supreme Court ruled that the DAP releases were unconstitutional and the President were impeached, “all the cohorts, those that asked or received should also be sued for plunder.”

“If all received P50 million, the others, P100 million, then all of them are guilty of plunder,” she said.

Told that charging lawmakers with plunder could leave Congress without a quorum, Santiago said, “We’ll have a failed Congress.”

Santiago, who voted to acquit Corona and who said she was not even informed of the DAP entitlements her colleagues received, earlier said that the DAP was unconstitutional because the fund releases weren’t provided for under the national budget Congress passed the year before.

She was one of three senators who voted to acquit Corona and who didn’t get any DAP funds for their respective projects. The others were Senators Joker Arroyo and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Arroyo was allotted P47 million under the DAP. He, however, said he didn’t know that the projects he identified supposedly under the 2013 General Appropriations Act were instead funded by the DAP funds.

Trivializing process

Arroyo on Thursday called on those raising the possible impeachment of Aquino to stop trivializing the impeachment process.

“When overused, it is drained of its cathartic value and it becomes terribly stale. I have always maintained that not every misstep of an impeachable officer is impeachable,” Arroyo said in a statement.

“Besides with the DAP in place, an impeachment will not reach first base,” he added.

Abolish DAP

To move on from the controversy, Arroyo said the DAP, which he described as an “unfortunate progeny of a misadventure at the [Department of Budget and Management]”, should simply be abolished.

“It won’t need congressional action because it is not a creation of Congress. It has no father. All that has to be done is for the President to stop the releases under the DAP and proclaim the DAP window closed,” Arroyo said.

“The country cannot afford to be rocked with endless conflicts and controversies. The Supreme Court is saddled with so many constitutional cases. So with the COA and the Ombudsman,” he added.

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TAGS: Congress, Joker Arroyo, Pork barrel, Senate, Supreme Court
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