Ombudsman's DAP probe continues; President Aquino, Abad still not off the hook

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Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales tells members of the House of Representatives that her office continues its probe on President Benigno Aquino III and Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad's possible involvement on the issue on Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Tuesday (September 1) told members of the House of Representatives that her office is investigating those who may be involved in the conception of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) including President Benigno Aquino III.

Ombudsman Morales said the investigation is ongoing and that the report from the field investigation office is already under review by her office.

Aside from President Aquino, Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad – who may also have a hand in the DAP – is also being investigated.

"There have been motu proprio investigations and investigations conducted on the complaints of several complainants and the respondents include the president, the Budget secretary and others who appeared to have been involved with conception or concept of DAP. The status now is all of them are pending fact-finding investigation," Morales said.

The Ombudsman also said they will resolve this month the issue on whether further investigation will be conducted on the plunder complaints against Abad in connection to the DAP.

Morales said the Office of the Ombudsman is "trying (their) best to speed up (the) resolution of cases."

Abad defends DAP

Meanwhile, Abad continuously defended the DAP, saying "the country benefited from DAP."

"What was being done before which was regular or legal and subsequently declared unconstitutional only applies prospectively. That means all that was done before was considered done in good faith that was reiterated in the MR decision of SC. You have to establish there was bad faith," Abad said.

Abad also told reporters  that there are just certain rules that needed to be clarified.

"As far as we're concerned the earlier these cases are clarified and resolved the better for everyone."

In an interview, Morales said they are taking their time reviewing the involvement of all parties in the DAP issue.

"If we approve and recommend for conduct of preliminary investigation so be it. If we don't agree to initiate preliminary investigation that means case is deemed closed and terminated that's why we need ample time to review jurisprudence and law involved," said Morales.

The ombudsman said they want to be very sure that the actions they will be taking are in accordance with the law, facts and evidence.

DBM cuts Ombudsman’s budget by P1B

Ombudsman Morales presented in the lower house its budget proposal for 2016 which was cut to about P1 billion by the budget department under Abad.

The Office of the Ombudsman's original proposal was P2.83 billion but the budget department only recommended P1.77 billion for 2016.

Lawmakers, however, said the Office of the Ombudsman deserves a budget increase considering the volume or number of cases it is handling.

The Ombudsman’s intelligence funds for 2016 only amounts to P3 million whereas Morales said her predecessors had about P20 million in intelligence funds.

As of June 2015 there are about 8,116 pending cases at the Office of the Ombudsman.

Ombudsman to address Enrile bail, Malampaya funds

Morales said her office is also set to file a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court on its decision to grant bail to Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.

Enrile is one of the three senators detained for alleged misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

As for the complaints involving the alleged misuse of the 900 million-peso Malampaya funds, the Ombudsman is also currently evaluating the report of its panel of investigators.