Malacañang’s defense of DAP is w/o legal basis and nonsensical

Frankly Speaking
By Frank Wenceslao





Sonny Coloma apparently begged off from defending the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and let Ed Lacierda, a lawyer, do it.

To paraphrase an old saying, what a tangled web a lawyer weaves when he defends what defies common sense. DAP is a violation of the Constitution that provides that only Congress can juggle public funds whose expenditures are approved in the annual General Appropriations Act. Any change thereof will be legal only if approved by Congress. As a consequence, any fund disbursement not approved in the GCC is misappropriation, illegal and probable criminal offense that must be investigated.

If probable cause is established against the people responsible for the offense such as ES Paquito Ochoa, DBM Sec. Florencio Abad, and others, they should be prosecuted in accordance with law. Instead of Lacierda getting hoarse telling whoever listens of defending the Palace “big shots” who might be probably guilty of fund misappropriation, they should be asked by the President to go on leave and be further investigated if prosecution in court is merited and be tried to let the ax fall where it may. This is as it should be if the rule of law shall prevail.

Hence, if President Aquino found other purposes, programs and projects to better spend the funds that otherwise will be unspent, he should’ve gone to Congress to propose adjustments. The trouble is Ochoa, Abad and other officials concerned are still suffering from martial law fever when with a stroke of a pen Marcos could change, adjust and transfer from one office to the other budgetary allocations approved in the annual GAA.

Ochoa and Abad are the most responsible next only to Aquino who’re legally liable by command responsibility in violating the fundamental law. But since the latter has immunity from suit in the meantime, it should be Ochoa, Abad and other lower officials should therefore be investigated for criminal liability in addition to facing continued public indignation.

In the old days when honor in public service was as important as life itself, the two should “fall on their swords” or, in Japan commit hara-kiri for causing dishonor to their boss (the President in our case).

Violating the law let alone the Constitution with misappropriation of funds is in and itself a high crime. It’s the executive secretary who’s sued for administrative failure or criminal offense in the OP while Abad’s fingerprints are on every evidence in the DAP’s illegality.

So, why should Malacañang go out of the way to cover them up if they’re criminally liable? Why not Aquino just say “good riddance” before more serious crimes are committed for him to be prosecuted after his term ends? Impeachment won’t work at this time. Anyone with evidence who wants to sue Aquino should wait until his term ends. It doesn’t really matter that no damage was caused by the DAP – but then who really knows? How about its unintended consequences?

In his most memorable and comical performance, Lacierda who pretended to be wearing an overcoat of an FBI agent or Scotland Yard detective asked and answered the following:

“Did Secretary Florencio ‘Butch’ Abad waste [Disbursement Acceleration Program, or DAP] money? No.

Did he steal the money? No.

Lacierda, now in judicial robe, categorically reached a decision that Abad didn’t personally gain from the DAP and every jurisprudence referenced shows the Budget Secretary didn’t commit any wrongdoing even after his brainchild, the DAP, was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. But Lacierda revoked this ruling by saying, “Ninety-one percent of DAP funds had been spent properly by the executive branch and there’s no doubt about it.”

What if the people ask what happened to the 9% of the funds released by virtue of the now unconstitutional and probably criminal DAP? Lacierda doesn’t know where did the 9% or P1.15 billion go out of approx. P12.8 billion approved for the DAP. This was allocated for projects identified by legislators. Since the rumor mill has been grinding that 20 senators got P50 million each to convict Renato Corona and remove him from office, that’s a total of ONE BILLION PESOS or about 9% of the P12.8 billion released for DAP. If this was so, someone or a cabal got P150 million or this is still unaccounted for.

Going back to Lacierda’s legal opinion, granting also the rumor is untrue and there’s no bribery to convict Corona for which each senator got P50 million for his/her “development projects”, approx. P1.15 billion from the DAP remains unaccounted for. Shouldn’t anybody be liable for this loss?

Let’s me again refer to Pamusa’s counsel who drafted an amicus curiae’s motion for reconsideration to set aside the Sandiganbayan’s dismissal of the graft charges against Roberto Ongpin et al. Our counsel claims the dismissal shouldn’t only be set aside but the liability of Ongpin should be raised to plunder in violation of RA 7080 (The Anti-Plunder Law) because the DBP, hence the government is bound to lose P660 million or at least P150 million out of the amount of loan illegally granted to Ongpin’s undercapitalized company in violation of banking laws and BSP regulations. If Senators and other respondents are charged of plunder for absconding with public funds of less than the P660 million, why shouldn’t Ongpin be charged of plunder also and be denied bail?

Calling the Supreme Court to look into this because something in this case smells like rotten Dutch cheese that needs inquiry whether the fault lies at the level of the prosecutors, in the Sandiganbayan or both.

At this juncture, to show that Pamusa supporters and I personally want Aquino to succeed and free as many poor people as will do their best to get out of poverty and its debilitating effects, we recommend his appointees be reshuffled that past presidents did, i.e. alternating young appointees with older and more experienced officials in order that different policy options would enable him to choose the best to his thinking.

It’s not too late therefore for Aquino to draw a lesson from President Eisenhower and his first chief of staff, L. Sherwin Adams, former Governor of New Hampshire. Adams is an American politician as best as can be known who’s White House Chief of Staff of President Dwight D. Eisenhower culminating in an 18-year political career that also included a stint as Governor of New Hampshire. He lost his White House position in a scandal over a vicuña fur coat.

Yet, Michael Medved wrote a book on Presidential aides called The Shadow Presidents rated Adams as probably the most powerful Presidential Chief of Staff in history. He told of a joke that circulated around Washington in the 1950s. Two Democrats were talking and one said “Wouldn’t it be terrible if Eisenhower died and Nixon became President?”

The other replied “Wouldn’t it be terrible if Sherman Adams died and Eisenhower became President!”

Adams was pressured to resign in 1958, when a House subcommittee revealed Adams had accepted an expensive vicuña overcoat and oriental rug from Bernard Goldfine, a Boston textile manufacturer who was being investigated for Federal Trade Commission violations. Goldfine, who had business with the federal government, was cited for contempt of Congress when he refused to answer questions regarding his relationship with Adams. The story was first reported to the public by Washington DC columnist Jack Anderson.

There’s a conflicting story that Vice President Richard Nixon was assigned the unpleasant role of telling Adams that he had to resign. He regretted it but was necessary despite ending Adams’ career in politics without judicial findings except media reports from congressional investigaion. However, another story says Nixon relented and another White House adviser told Adams to resign.

When finally Adams saw Eisenhower to say good-bye, the president was reported to have said apologetically, “Of course, you understand, Sherman, it has to be you rather than me.”

Sherman reportedly replied also, “Of course, Mr. President, we are sacrificial lambs whenever needed.”

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