Ombudsman Indicts Ex-DBM Chief Abad Over P72-B DAP; Non-Inclusion of Ex-President Aquino Assailed

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INDICTED OVER P72-B DAP. Former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and former President Benigno Aquino III. 

QUEZON CITY — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has found probable cause to charge former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad with violation of Article 239 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), or usurpation of legislative powers.

The complainants led by Rep. Carlos Zarate and Dante Jimenez of the  Volunteers against Crime and Corruption (VACC) immediately complained for leaving out former President Benigno S Aquino III in the indictment.

The charge arose from Abad’s unlawful issuance of National Budget Circular (NBC) No. 541 to carry out the implementation of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) involving P72 billion.

NBC No. 541 authorizes the withdrawal of unobligated allotments of agencies with low levels of obligations as of June 30, 2012.

Likewise, Abad was found guilty of simple misconduct and ordered suspended for three months.

However, considering his separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to his salary for three months.

The cases stemmed from the complaint filed by Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Renato Reyes, Benjamin Valbuena, Dante LA Jimenez, Mae Paner, Antonio Flores, Gloria Arellano and Bonifacio Carmona, Jr.

During the probe, the Ombudsman found that by issuing NBC No. 541, Abad unlawfully encroached on the powers of Congress by effectively modifying the provisions on savings of the 2012 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Ombudsman Morales said that “NBC No. 541 provided the principal bases 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.”

It can be recalled that in 2014, the Supreme Court (SC) declared unconstitutional the following acts committed in pursuance of the DAP:

— withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies;

— the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the GAA; and

— the cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the executive.

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