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Aquino: SC committed DAP acts

By Louis Bacani

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MANILA, Philippines — For the third time in two weeks, President Benigno Aquino III assailed the Supreme Court (SC) for striking down key portions of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional.

In his speech during the 150th birth anniversary celebration of Apolinario Mabini, the President again defended the legality of the DAP, saying even the high court committed acts similar to those under the controversial fund scheme.

"Naidiin pa ang paninindigan natin na naaayon sa batas ang DAP dahil ang mismong Korte Suprema ay sumang-ayon din sa ganitong mekanismo," Aquino said in his televised speech.

Aquino laid out some of the arguments of the executive department's motion for reconsideration on the DAP ruling which revealed the supposed cross-border transfer of funds committed by the high court two years ago.

The President said in July 2012, the SC allocated its existing savings of P1.865 billion to augment the P100-million budget for the Manila Hall of Justice.

But Aquino said the project was an item in the 2012 budget of the Department of Justice (DOJ), a part of the executive department.

"Malinaw po: ang pera po ng hudikatura inilaan nila para sa proyektong ehekutibo dapat ang gumagawa," Aquino said.

He also cited an SC resolution requesting the Department of Budget Management (DBM) to approve the transfer of P100 million from the DOJ-Justice System Infrastructure Program (JUSIP) budget for 2012 to the coffers of the judiciary.

Aquino said the high court requested the amount to use it for the construction of the Malabon Hall of Justice.

"Ipinalilipat po nila ang mga pondo para maipatayo ang mga gusaling magbabahay ng mga korte. Wala naman po tayong nakikitang masama rito, dahil alam nating mapapabilis nito ang sistemang pangkatarungan sa bansa," Aquino said.

The President, however, noted that the SC withdrew its request in December 2013 at the height of the DAP controversy.

"Pero malinaw na naman po sa mga halimbawang ito ang pagtatangkang magsagawa ng tinatawag nilang cross-border transfer, o ang paglalaan ng pondo mula sa isang sangay ng gobyerno tungo sa ibang sangay," he said.

Implemented from 2011 to 2013, the DAP pooled government savings to fund various projects to pump-prime the economy. The high court has unanimously declared several acts under the program as unconstitutional, including the cross-border transfer of funds.

Aquino maintained that the DAP benefited the public and that SC ruling will have wide implications and a "chilling effect" on governance.

In his speech, Aquino cited Mabini's accomplishments to stress the importance of the DAP.

"Sa harap ng Malolos Congress, idiniin ni Mabini ang pangangailangan ng ehekutibong maging mabilis, maliksi, at buo ang loob, dahil trabaho nitong matugunan ang pangangailangan ng taumbayan sa lalong madaling panahon," Aquino said.

He also echoed his earlier call for cooperation among the equal branches of government. In his televised address last week, Aquino challenged the Supreme Court to help the administration in its reforms by reversing its decision on the DAP.

"Nanawagan din siya (Mabini) sa lehislatura noon: Magtulungan naman tayo, at huwag sanang itali ang kamay ng ehekutibo, upang hindi lumipas ang pagkakataong mapabilis ang pag-angat ng antas ng pamumuhay ng mga mamamayan," Aquino said.

And despite his perceived "bullying" of the SC, Aquino claimed that he does not intend to defy the high court.

"Pagdating po sa batas, nasa Korte Suprema ang huling salita. Wala tayong balak na labagin ang kanilang mga pasya," the President said.

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