MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the administrative liability of former budget secretary Florencio Abad over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the previous administration, parts of which were declared illegal by the Supreme Court in 2014.
In a 15-page ruling promulgated on Feb. 27, the special 14th Division of the appellate court affirmed the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman in March last year that found Abad guilty of simple misconduct.
The CA dismissed the petition of Abad seeking reversal of the anti-graft office’s ruling.
It rejected Abad’s claim of good faith in implementing the DAP during the term of former president Benigno Aquino III.
“To be sure, Abad may not successfully evade liability by invoking good faith. While his desire to fast-track public spending and push economic growth is laudable and the implementation of the DAP, in fact, undeniably yielded positive results that enhanced the economic welfare of the country, his defense could not override the clear mandate of the law,” read the ruling penned by Associate Justice Zenaida Galapate-Laguilles.
“It is of no consequence, then, that no malice or corrupt motive impelled Abad into adopting the flawed procedures. As a responsible public officer, Abad ought to have been well aware that he has no authority to overrule the established rules and the fundamental law of the land,” it stressed.
Associate Justices Mario Lopez and Gabriel Robeniol concurred with the ruling.
The ombudsman found Abad guilty of simple misconduct and ordered him suspended for three months. Since he resigned at the end of Aquino’s presidency, the penalty was converted to a fine equivalent to his salary for three months.
Based on the investigation of the ombudsman, Abad unlawfully intruded on the powers of Congress by effectively modifying the provisions on savings in the General Appropriations Act of 2012 when he issued National Budget Circular (NBC) No. 541, which consolidated savings or unutilized balances and withdrew unobligated balances of agencies with low levels of obligations.
The anti-graft office also indicted Abad before the Sandiganbayan for violation of Article 239 of the Revised Penal Code or the Usurpation of Legislative Powers after he allegedly unlawfully issued NBC No. 541, which carried out the implementation of DAP involving P72 billion.