|BUDGET SECRETARY FLORENCIO ABAD|
QUEZON CITY – The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the preliminary investigation for the criminal and administrative charges against Department of Budget and Management (DBM) officials.
Budget and Management Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad and Undersecretary Mario Relampagos will be investigated in connection with the utilization of the DAP funds amounting to P400 million from 2011 to 2012.
Last February, the Supreme Court (SC) upholds its July 2014 ruling declaring parts of the DAF funds unconstitutional.
”We affirm our position that the government acted in the public interest,” Coloma said.
The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) Field Investigation Office (FIO) has completed its fact-finding investigation into the utilization of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds for the period 2011 to 2012.
Budget Secretary Abad and Undersecretary Relampagos are facing preliminary investigation for technical malversation and administrative charges.
The special panel of field investigators disclosed that Abad and Relampagos authorized the DAP sourced from pooled savings as “a plan to boost disbursements” and “to jumpstart the implementation” of the government’s expenditure program.
It added that as authorized, the DAP projects were identified based on their “multiplier impact on the economy and infrastructure benefit, beneficial effect on the poor and translation into disbursements.”
Documents noted irregularities in the cross border DAP transfer transactions to the Commission on Audit (COA) and the House of Representatives (House).
From the total P31.9-billion DAP funds, the amount of P250 million was released to the House for the construction of its legislative library and archive building/congressional e-library.
However, field investigators noted that the House project “is not among those approved by the President.”
On the other hand, the total amount of P143.7 million was released to the COA to augment its IT infrastructure program and hiring of additional litigation experts as per approved Special Allotment Release Order (SARO).
Abad prepared and signed all memoranda and issuances concerning DAP implementation while Relampagos signed the corresponding SAROs to COA and House.
In a related development, a special panel of lawyers was constituted to conduct the preliminary investigation.
Under Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), the crime of technical malversation is committed by a public officer who disburses public funds or property for a purpose different from which they were originally appropriated by law or ordinance.The FIO also recommended that the issue on the utilization of funds to DAP projects in the Executive Department be referred to the COA for special audit
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Wednesday said the Ombudsman’s investigation on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds will provide opportunity to clarify the legal issues for its implementation.
“The conduct of the preliminary investigation provides an opportunity to clarify the legal issues on the implementation of the DAP considering that upon the government’s motion for reconsideration, the Supreme Court upheld the principle of operative fact,” Coloma said.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) sent agents from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to the office of the National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) to secure the documents involving the Priority Development Assistant Fund (PDAF) scam.
According to Dante Zamora, president of the NLDC Employees Association (NLDCEA), DOJ Secretary Leila M. De Lima sent the NBI agents to advise them not to give to anyone several boxes of documents containing the transactions involving the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the lawmakers who are implicated in the report of the Commission on Audit (COA) stating that there have been irregularities in the projects funded by the lawmakers’ PDAF from 2008 to 2012.
The employees of the defunct NLDC have expressed apprehension that the pieces of evidence might be lost, especially since they have received an order from the Governance Commission on GOCC (Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations) to vacate their office after it abolished the NLDC just this month.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court (SC) has considered the petition filed by the NLDC employees seeking to declare as illegal the abolition of their office.
The SC gave Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. and Cesar Villanueva, Chair of the Governance Commission on GOCC, a period of 10 days from notice, within which to comment on the petition of the NLDC employees.
According to the NLDC employees, they would like to personally talk to De Lima in connection with the documents of the NLDC in connection with the COA report involving the new PDAF scam.