SC: DAP implementors not off the hook

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

AUTHORS and implementors of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) can still be held liable if proven that it was not used in good faith, the Supreme Court (SC) said.

Applying the doctrine of operative fact, the SC pointed out in its decision that the DAP is unconstitutional but its effects such as programs and projects, prior to the declaration of nullity, remain valid.

However, the Court said this doctrine cannot be applied to "authors, proponents and implementors of the DAP, unless there are concrete findings of good faith in their favor by the proper tribunals determining their criminal, civil, administrative and other liabities."

The SC declared key parts of the DAP unconstitutional on Tuesday, saying the alleged savings were used to augment new budget items, which was not previously authorized by Congress.

The Court also hit the President's decision to fund projects and programs outside the Executive department.

DAP Decision (Supreme Court)

In a statement, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said she will create a panel of field investigators to look into the DAP transactions to see if any crime or offense has been committed by involved public officials.

"In light of the Supreme Court's decision on the DAP case, we are initiating an investigation into the matter," Morales said.

Under the law, the Ombudsman may launch an investigation even without a 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."

The law also grants the Ombudsman the power to investigate any serious misconduct in office allegedly committed by impeachable officers, but only for the purpose of filing a verified complaint for impeachment.

The Kabataan party-list said it is now preparing the impeachment complaint to be filed against President Benigno Aquino III in the House of Representatives, citing culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust, both of which are impeachable offenses.

Any attempt on impeaching Aquino, however, will not likely prosper since administration allies control the House and the Senate.

Aquino justified the DAP as a tool to speed up the economy, which slowed down in 2011 due to state underspending. (Sunnex)

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