Ombudsman to probe DAP offenses

MANILA, Philippines – The Ombudsman is set to probe if there were offenses and crimes committed by public officials through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

"In light of the Supreme Court's decision on the DAP case, we are initiating an investigation into the matter," Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said in a statement Wednesday, July 2.

The Ombudsman's move came amid calls to prosecute President Benigno Aquino III and Budget Secretary Butch Abad for implementing the illegal acts under DAP.

The Palace had defended the DAP, saying the administration acted in good faith and that funds were not misused. 

A day earlier, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional 3 acts or practices under the disbursement program.

DAP is a program initiated in 2011 by the Aquino administration to boost the economy by transferring unused funds for slow-disbursing projects to fast-disbursing ones. (READ: TIMELINE: The rise and fall of DAP)

The transfer of funds from projects, programs, and activities under the executive branch to projects of another branch was declared unconstitutional by the High Court. The President can only transfer savings within the executive branch itself, the SC ruled.

The creation of savings contrary to the definition of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) was also declared void. Savings as defined by the GAA include funds from abandoned projects, uncompleted projects and vacancies in government.

The SC ruled that a lump sum cannot be declared as savings mid-year as the project from which the funds were taken cannot be identified categorically as abandoned or unfinished.

These illegal acts will be investigated by the Ombudsman. Morales said she is keen on creating a panel of field investigators to conduct the probe.

She also said her office is allowed by law to initiate an investigation on its own and even without a lodged complaint on "any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient."

Morales cited Republic Act 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of 1989. – Rappler.com