Plunder case filed vs Abad

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

MANILA -- Various militant youth groups filed Tuesday a plunder charge against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad over his alleged involvement in the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), whose certain parts were declared unconstitutional.

"The respondent systematically misappropriated, converted, misused, and malversed public funds through his executive issuances and the programs implemented by him as Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management," the petitioners led by Kabataan Party-list Representative Terry Ridon said in their complaint affidavit.

Ridon cited in the petition the recent Supreme Court (SC) decision that struck down the DAP, a disbursement program that was primarily created by the Aquino administration and implemented by Abad.

The petitioners also noted the High Court explicitly excluded Abad and other "authors, proponents and implementors of the DAP" from the doctrine of operative fact.

The lawmaker said the "operative fact" is a judicial doctrine that "nullifies the void law or executive act but sustains its effects."

"By leaving the 'authors, proponents, and implementors' of the DAP open for investigation for their criminal, civil, and administrative liabilities, the justices of the Supreme Court are in fact telling the Filipino people that the Aquino administration, especially DBM Secretary Abad, should be held liable," Ridon said.

In the complaint affidavit, petitioners argued that Abad cannot claim "good faith" or "ignorance of the law" in committing illegal acts through the implementation of DAP.

The petitioners cited portions of Associate Justice Arturo Brion's dissenting opinion on the DAP where the senior justice stated, "it is not hard to believe that [Abad] can run circles around the budget and its processes, and did, in fact, purposely use this knowledge for the administration's objective of gathering the very sizeable funds collected under the DAP."

The petitioners also mentioned alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles' claim that Abad is her mentor in diverting public funds to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs).

"It should also be noted that Janet Lim-Napoles, in an affidavit dated May 12, 2014 submitted to the Department of Justice has claimed that respondent was her mentor, having taught her how to use NGOs in maximizing her earnings in transactions involving the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) of lawmakers," the petition read.

Ridon said that despite Abad's clear violation of the Constitution and other relevant laws, the Aquino administration "continues to coddle" him.

"The very fact that Aquino is coddling a criminal like Abad only proves that the two of them have connived to execute this multibillion monstrosity known as DAP. Filing criminal charges against Abad is just the first half of the legal actions that we'll pursue. We will be filing an impeachment complaint against Aquino next," the youth lawmaker added.

The same group filed last June a plunder case against Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala over his alleged involvement in the PDAF scam.

Meanwhile, Malacanang was not yet ready to release the complete list of projects and programs funded under the DAP of the Aquino administration.

In a regular press briefing Tuesday, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that the executive branch, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), was still studying the decision of the Supreme Court on DAP.

"There's a continuing study of the decision including the legal options that may be taken. In other words, nandoon pa naman tayo sa situation where it’s still an active case and government still has the opportunity to avail itself of certain legal options with respect to the decision of the court, and we would prefer to address your interest in that light," he said.

He noted that the OSG received the SC decision on July 4 and under the rules of the court, the government as respondent was given 15 days from receipt of the ruling within which to file a motion for reconsideration.

While the Palace could not disclose yet all the projects funded under DAP, Coloma said other government agencies as well as the lawmakers who received funds from DAP, were not prohibited if they want to reveal those projects and programs under this mechanism.

Meanwhile, the Palace official said that Secretary Abad was still busy to answer questions pertaining to DAP after SC's decision.

"Ginagampanan ni Secretary Abad 'yung kanyang tungkulin bilang Secretary of Budget and Management at ginagampanan din ng pamahalaan, ng administrasyon ang tungkulin nito, ano, na pag-aralan nang masusi ang buong desisyon ng Korte Suprema para makapagbuo ng angkop na tugon dahil nga meron tayong 15 araw simula sa pagtanggap ng desisyon para magbuo ng pasya kung saan pa nais pumunta hinggil sa usaping ito," he said when asked why Abad was not yet appearing to the public in light of the SC ruling.

He said that Abad was one among those studying the high court's decision and the possible legal options to take. (With SDR/Sunnex)

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