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Palace on DAP: We did nothing wrong

/ 02:50 PM July 03, 2014

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — You won’t be hearing any apology from Malacañang on the partial unconstitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) because there’s nothing to be sorry about, an official said Thursday.

“Pag sinabing magso-sorry ka may ginawa kang kasalanan. Wala po kaming ginawang kasalanan hinggil dito (When you say sorry, it means you did something wrong. We did nothing wrong here),” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. when asked if the administration will apologize for DAP.

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Coloma insisted that although the now defunct DAP was declared unconstitutional, it did not mean there was wrongdoing.

His statement echoed Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s earlier argument that unconstitutionality does not equate to criminality.

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Coloma also cited portions of the Supreme Court decision, which was released in full on Thursday morning, stating the application of the doctrine of operative fact, which allows the effects of the nullified act to be retained.

“We note further that in its decision the high tribunal stated—and I quote—’the implementation of the DAP yielded undeniably positive results that enhanced the economic welfare of the country… Not to apply the doctrine of operative fact to the DAP could literally cause the physical undoing of such worthy results by destruction and would result in most undesirable wastefulness,’” Coloma said.

Defending good faith

The Secretary reiterated that the executive branch “exercised good faith and due diligence, in accordance with existing laws and pertinent auditing rules and procedures” in implementing the controversial program.

He said those questioning the administration’s “good faith” should be the ones to prove it is not true.

“Kung merong mga tao, indibidwal o grupo na tatanggi diyan, hindi na para sa akin para ipaliwanag pa ‘yung pagtanggi nila. Hayaan nating ipahayag nila ‘yung kanilang pagkontra sa aming sinabi at ipakita kung paano sila tama o paano kami mali,” he said.

(If there are people, any individual or group, who opposes that, it is not for me to explain. They should be the ones to express their opposition and explain why they are right or why we are wrong.)

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Accountability

Coloma said it’s “the call of the President” Benigno Aquino III if Budget Secretary Florencio Abad would be asked to account for DAP.

Asked if Aquino and Abad already discussed the case, he said, “I have not inquired into the extent of their discussion, but I believe they have talked about it.”

At the same time, the Secretary clarified that officials and lawmakers found to have misused public funds should be held accountable.

“Yung ginawa nila, responsibilidad nila ‘yon bilang public official (What they did is their responsibility as public official),” he said.

Coloma said there is no need for the Executive to facilitate its own investigation since “There are already built-in mechanisms for accountability, and committed as we are to the good governance principles, these are operative day after day and have never been suspended at any time.”

While Lacierda already said that the SC ruling should not be used as basis for Aquino’s impeachment, Coloma said it is the prerogative of the House of Representatives.

“Hahayaan natin ang mga miyembro na magpasya rin hinggil diyan dahil ‘yon naman ay karapatan nila bilang hiwalay at kapantay na sangay ng pamahalaan,” the Secretary said.

(The members will decide on that because it is their right as a separate and co-equal branch of government.)

In the end, Coloma said they will continue to study and discuss the 92-page decision of the Supreme Court.

“We really would like to gain a more comprehensive understanding of all of those issues, rather than taking potshots here and there. We prefer that that is the best way to understand the decision and to adopt the necessary actions moving forward,” he said.

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TAGS: Constitution, DAP, Disbursement Acceleration Program, Laws
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