Government urges SC to junk anti-DAP petitions

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

MANILA -- A retired Supreme Court (SC) justice asked current magistrates on Tuesday to junk the petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Representing the government, former SC justice Vicente Mendoza said the nine petitioners are not the aggrieved parties in the case even if they are taxpayers.

"While the petitioners claimed to be taxpayers, they did not allege that they had suffered any injury as a result of the adoption of the DAP to justify their standings as taxpayers," Mendoza said at the conclusion of the oral argument.

He said the petitioners should have sought remedy before the Commission on Audit (COA) or the trial courts if they want to scrutinize how the so-called "savings" were used for DAP projects to lift the economy from late 2011 to middle of last year.

Mendoza also reminded the justices to deal only with actual controversies since "any attempt at abstraction could only lead to dialectics and barren legal questions and to sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities."

The SC ordered parties to submit a memorandum within 20 days.

Meanwhile, Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon questioned the allotment of P6.5 billion from DAP in 2011 to augment the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for that year.

Ridon said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad detailed the source of funds and projects for the first year of implementation of DAP in a memorandum for President Benigno Aquino III dated October 12, 2011.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) identified P72.11 billion in DAP funds, of which P70.895 billion were allotted for 34 projects.

Item 33 in the table titled "Projects in the Disbursement Acceleration Program" indicated P6.5 billion for "various other local projects."

In the annex affixed to the memorandum, the said item was further elaborated as constituting funds for "PDAF augmentation."

"It is now clear that portions of DAP were used as congressional pork. And now that the Supreme Court has declared PDAF unconstitutional, won't that allocation be illegal act in itself?" Ridon asked.

He asked Malacañang to explain what projects were funded by the PDAF augmentation.

"Did it undergo any form of oversight? Was it part of the funds that were allegedly used to bribe senators to impeach former Chief Justice (Renato) Corona? Which legislators benefited from this PDAF augmentation? All these questions must be answered by the Palace immediately," said Ridon.

Abad earlier denied insinuations that DAP funds may had been used to convince senators to oust Corona in May 2012. (Sunnex)

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