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Ombudsman indicts Aquino, Abad over DAP

By Czarina Nicole O. Ong and Genalyn D. Kabiling

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has found probable cause to indict former President Benigno S. Aquino III and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad over the implementation of Disbursement Accelaration Program.

Morales said Aquino and Abad will be charged before the Sandiganbayan for usurpation of legislative powers under Article 239 of the Revised Penal Code for the alleged unlawful issuance of National Budget Circular No. 541, which implemented the R72-billion DAP, an economic stimulus program.

The DAP which allows government agencies to withdraw unobligated amounts even without the approval of Congress or Senate during the Aquino administration was a replacement for the Priority Development Assistance Fund or “pork barrel” fund which was used in several high-profile scams.

The Ombudsman’s May 22, 2018 resolution stated that “a re-evaluation of the case establishes that the individual actions of respondent Aquino and respondent-movant Abad showed a joint purpose and design to encroach on the powers of Congress by expanding the meaning of savings to fund programs, activities, and projects under the DAP.”

“Abad’s act of issuing NBC 541 cannot be viewed in a vacuum. The evidence on record shows that an exchange of memoranda between (Aquino) and (Abad) precipitated its issuance. Verily, without the approval of the said memoranda by respondent Aquino, NBC 541 would not have been issued,” it added.

In both instances, Abad sought for Aquino’s approval and it was “knowingly” given by the former President. “His approval prompted the issuance of NBC 541 which directed the withdrawal of unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations and their declaration as savings, which is contrary to law,” the resolution stated.

Malacañang is hopeful that justice will be attained after the indictment of Aquino.

“Let justice be done,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.