MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III is on the defensive; saying on Monday that his administration is positioned to appeal a Supreme Court decision that his government’s now controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program, started in 2011, is partly unconstitutional.
Aquino said in a nationally televised address that the decision set forth by the country’s highest court serves as a hindrance his efforts to create major economic stimulus and pursue reforms after succeeding a president whose rule was marred by corruption.
The president stressed that the funds were not stolen, as critics have claimed. He likewise explained that under the Disbursement Acceleration Program, government savings and non-budgeted incomes were used to provide electricity to remote villages, and build schools, among other such projects. and finance other projects.
“To the Supreme Court, our message: Do not bar us from doing what we swore to do. Shouldn’t you be siding with us in pushing for reform? We do not want two equal branches of government to go head to head,” he said.
However, Aquino also added that his administration finds it “difficult to understand” the court’s decision.
As Aquino delivered his statement, activists demonstrated in Manila as Aquino spoke, calling for his impeachment due to constitutional violations.
Rep. Neri Colmenares, a staunch critic of Aquino, posited that the president’s defense of the DAP “is a declaration of war with the Supreme Court.”