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National lawyers group joins call for SC to scrap DAP

/ 05:15 PM October 16, 2013

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MANILA, Philippines—The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to stop the release of funds from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and declare it as unconstitutional.

In a 24-page petition for prohibition, the IBP through counsel, former University of the Philippines Law Dean Pacifico Agabin said unless restrained, the taxpayers will suffer irreparable injury because the money they have paid the government were illegally utilized.

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The IBP said its disbursement is not only grave abuse of discretion but can even be considered a criminal act—it is technical malversation under the Revised Penal Code.

Petitioner explained that the Constitution limited the power of the executive department as a disbursing authority by releasing only funds that are listed in appropriation law passed by Congress.

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In the case of DAP, it was never mentioned in the 2011, 2012 and 2013’s General Appropriations Act.

“There is no appropriation for such a program, nor was there any allocation made by Congress therefore. Obviously, this is not a program submitted to Congress for its approval,” the IBP petition stated.

It also pointed out that even Budget Secretary Florencio Abad admitted the DAP was not in the GAA.

“Secretary Abad’s declarations alone render the legality of the DAP doubtful and anomalous,” the IBP said.

It further pointed that the Executive Department cannot justify DAP’s legality by citing Article VI, Section 25(5) of the Constitution which provides that all appropriation bills shall emanate from the House of Representatives.

Also, the same provision further restricts that only items in the general appropriations law allocated for the respective offices of President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of Constitutional Commissions, may be augmented by its own savings.

In this case, the DAP funds were, according to the DBM re-aligned budgets from slow moving items, which, petitioners said “can never be considered as one that has been completed, abandoned or discontinued.” Only completed, abandoned or discontinued projects can be utilized for augmentation of savings, as stated under the GAA.

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The IBP further stated that the DBM failed to give exact details of expenditures where DAP was used nor it specified the “slow moving” projects where it took the DAP funds.

IBP also questioned why Senators were also provided DAP allocations when they already have their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) which was already under the GAA.

“Hence, respondent violated the Constitution which states that the President may only use savings to augment an item ‘for their respective offices’…” the IBP said.

This is the 5th petition filed with the Supreme Court seeking to declare DAP as unconstitutional.

Others who filed separate petitions are former Iloilo lawmaker Augusto Syjuco, Manuelito Luna, Jose Malvar Villegas and the Philippine Constitution Association.

RELATED STORIES:

SC asked to declare DAP illegal

Only SC can stop gov’t from releasing money via DAP

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TAGS: DAP, Disbursement Acceleration Program, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Pacifico Agabin, Revised Penal Code, Supreme Court, taxpayers, University of the Philippines
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