In a ruling concluded yesterday, the Office of the Ombudsman cleared former President Benigno Aquino III and Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos while former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad was held liable for charges on the controversial P72-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The Ombudsman cleared Relampagos on grounds of lack of merit, while it dismissed Aquino due to lack of jurisdiction as the complaint was filed after his term as President.
Abad is currently facing charges for usurpation of legislative powers for his alleged unlawful issuance of the National Budget Circular No.541.
NBC No.541 carried out the implementation of the DAP, a program meant to accelerate the spending of agencies without needing any approval from Congress and the Senate. However, the Supreme Court declared the DAP unconstitutional in 2014.
In the ruling presided by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio, she said:
“NBC No. 541 provided the principal basis for the withdrawal of unobligated allotments which were declared as savings and used to fund PAPs (programs, activities, and projects) under the DAP. The issuance of this circular is an act of usurpation. This is contrary to law”.
Article 239 of the Revised Penal Code states that prison correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed as penalty on an executive or judicial officer who shall encroach upon the powers of the legislative branch of the government, either by making general rules or regulations beyond the scope of his authority, or by attempting to repeal a law or suspending the execution thereof.
Abad is also guilty of simple misconduct and was ordered a suspension of three months. However, since he is no longer in government service, he was fined an amount equal to his three months’ salary as Budget Secretary instead.