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MANILA, Philippines (Updated) – A former congressman on Monday, October 7, asked the Supreme Court to declare the government’s so-called economic stimulus package – now known as the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) – as unconstitutional and stop the budget department from implementing it further.
Former Iloilo Representative Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco Jr also urged the SC to recommend the filing of administrative and criminal charges against Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad and Senate President Franklin Drilon.
In his petition, Syjuco called Drilon, his rival in local politics, as the alleged “promotor” of using the “fictional” DAP to push for the impeachment of former chief justice Renato Corona in May 2012. Drilon was the chairman of the Senate finance committee at that time.
Meanwhile, the ex-solon said Abad should be held accountable since DAP was created not by virtue of an Executive Order from the President but merely by a memorandum from the Department of Budget and Management.
According to the petition, the Constitution asserts that all appropriations must pass through Congress, and an office can only augment or re-align items that are included in the general appropriations law. It also cites that the augmentation should be taken from the savings of the respective office.
The former lawmaker specified 3 main reasons why DAP was unconstitutional:
- No law was passed and promulgated for the creation of the DAP.
- Funds allocated for DAP were taken from budgets of slow moving projects which were not completed nor performed and therefore are not savings in itself.
- DAP was and is being used to augment new budget allocations or list not approved by the legislature.
Drilon earlier admitted the DAP releases were sourced from unused funds from various line agencies, and were used to fund items outside the budget.
Sen Jinggoy Estrada earlier accused Malacañang of enticing senators to vote to oust the Chief Justice in exchange for P50 million each.
Abad denied the additional releases to senators were bribes. He said the releases, ranging from P23 million to P100 million for senators, were in fact part of DAP.
Syjuco earlier filed plunder charges against Drilon, his known rival in Iloilo politics.
In a statement, Drilon said he would in due time answer the allegations made in the petition.
He, however, denounced his inclusion in the petition as “a clear effort by Syjuco and his camp to muddle the issue on the DAP funds” and to remove public attention from the “corruption” involving lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund.
Syjuco, however, did not receive his mandated PDAF in his last term under the Aquino administration, as did other vocal Aquino critics in the House.
A Rappler report also identified Aquino allies also involved in the systematic misuse of lawmakers’ pork barrel.
Drilon said his critic was misinformed when Syjuco called him the “promoter” of the allegedly illegal releases.
Without addressing questions on the releases’ constitutionality, the Senate President said: “The DAP allocation is not cold cash and but was merely a list of infrastructure projects recommended by legislators and local government officials to be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways.”
Drilon said “the P100 million I requested under the DAP in December 2012 was…utilized to fund infrastructure projects in Iloilo City, which was eyeing to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ministerial meeting in 2015.”
A Liberal Party ally at the House of Representatives supported moves to bring questions over the legality of DAP to the SC.
“I think that is best that we bring this issue to the Supreme Court and find out who’s got the strongest legal position on this matter about the DAP,” said Iloilo Rep Jerry Trenas. “But until then, I think that there is no legal stumbling block for the Department of Budget and Management if it decides to continue implementing DAP.”
Syjuco’s petition is the 2nd complaint against DAP lodged before the SC.