Malacañang, DBM can be held liable for DAP–SC

By , on July 3, 2014

Supreme Court of the Philippines. Photo by Mike Gonzales courtesy of Wiki Commons.
Supreme Court of the Philippines. Photo by Mike Gonzales courtesy of Wiki Commons.

MANILA – If proven that the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), a fund scheme that was recently declared unconstitutional, was used in “bad faith,” Malacañang and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) officials can be held liable, according to the Supreme Court (SC).

“Those who acted in bad faith or with gross negligence cannot invoke the doctrine. Likewise, those directly responsible for an illegal or unconstitutional act cannot invoke the doctrine,” Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said in a separate opinion.

The same thing was stated in the 92-page decision published on Wednesday with SC saying, “authors, proponents and implementors” of the DAP will be held liable “unless there are concrete findings of good faith in their favor by the proper tribunals determining their criminal, civil, administrative and other liabilities.”

Meanwhile, Justice Arturo Brion said the criminal, civil or administrative liability of the DAP proponents, particularly DBM Secretary Florencio Abad, is not part of the high court’s jurisdiction.

“To be specific about this disclaimer, aside from the many admissions outlined elsewhere in the Opinion, there are indicators showing that the DBM Secretary might have established the DAP knowingly aware that it is tainted with unconstitutionality,” Brion said in his separate opinion.

He added that his conversation with Abad negates the claim that Abad did not know the legal implications of his actions, in relation to the creation of DAP.

“As a lawyer and with at least 12 years of experience behind him as a congressman who was even the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, it is inconceivable that he did not know the illegality or unconstitutionality that tainted his brainchild,” Brion said.

“Armed with all these knowledge, it is not hard to believe that he 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 funds collected under the DAP,” he added.