MANILA, Philippines–A petition has asked the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional the creation and implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
In a 14-page petition, former Iloilo Representative and former head of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)Augusto Syjuco also urged the high court to order the Department of Budget and Management to stop the further implementation of the DAP.
He also pushed for the filing of criminal and administrative charges against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Senate President Franklin Drilon.
Syjuco, in his petition, said the 1987 Constitution does not allow any transfer of appropriations except when it originally and exclusively came from Congress.
In this case, however, he said it was Aquino, through the Budget Department that created the DAP.
“The executive branch of the government created ‘a side-line budget within the budget’ so as to create a discretionary fund which they can appropriate and release as their whims and desires might dictate.
“Worse was when they released funds to Senators who belong to a different branch of the government. This is a blatant and gross violation of the Constitution,” the petition stated.
Syjuco was referring to the release of additional pork barrel worth P50 million to each Senator, except for two: Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Bong-bong Marcos, in 2012, after the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. This disbursement was coursed through Drilon.
As of October 1, 2013, P137.3 billion was released by Malacañang under the DAP, which include the P82.5 billion released in 2011, and P54.8 billion disbursed in 2012.
The DAP was created by President Aquino, through the DBM, in October 2011. It is described as a “stimulus package… designed to fast-track public spending and pushes economic growth to cover high-impact budgetary programs and projects which will be augmented out of the savings generated during the year and additional revenue sources” and in order to “accelerate spending and address low Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth.”
The Palace argued that the creation of DAP is allowed under the law.
But Syjuco said Art VI, Sec. 25 (5) of the 1987 Constitution provides that “‘[A]ll appropriation bills emanate from the House of Representatives…”
Syjuco pointed out that the Constitution “further restricts that only items in the general appropriations law allocated for the respective offices of President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of Constitutional Commissions, may be augmented by its own savings.”
In this case, he said the DAP funds were re-aligned budgets from slow moving items to items or projects which the Executive branch “deemed appropriate and were not originally used to finance a particular project wherein a surplus was realized.”
Syjuco said “savings,” as defined in appropriations law, refers to a surplus in budget after the completion or payment of a particular line item budget included in the general appropriations law.
“[W]hen the funds were never used or the project is deferred, it cannot be classified as savings.
Syjuco told the high court that if the DAP were to be allowed to continue, “all tax payers of this country stand to be directly affected by the illegal appropriation and disbursement of public funds.”
“This program has been implemented, being implemented and to be continuously implemented by the respondents with the use of public funds to damage and prejudice every tax payer of this country who contributes to the collection and accumulation of public funds,” the petition read.
Syjuco’s petition also told the high court that respondents Abad and Drilon should be held “accountable and liable for their unlawful and unconstitutional acts,” and criminal and administrative cases should be pursued against them.
Drilon, reacting to Syjuco’s plea, issued a statement saying his inclusion in the petition “is but part of a highly-financed black propaganda.”
“I will answer in due time the petition filed before the Supreme Court against me and Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad by my discredited and political rival, former Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr., over the creation and implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP),” Drilon said.
“This is an attempt to make the Supreme Court a venue for political mudslinging,” he added.