Aquino cleared, Abad charged over DAP—Ombudsman

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Office of the Ombudsman indicted on Tuesday former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad over the controversial P72-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Administrative charges against former president Benigno Aquino, III, meanwhile, were dropped due to lack of jurisdiction as the Ombudsman has no authority over impeachable officials.

Aquino approved the DAP proposed by Abad in October 2011, which aimed to "fast-track public spending and push economic growth by prioritizing high-impact budgetary programs and projects," with the budget augmented from savings throughout the year.

"It is as I have always said: Although the DAP was ruled as partly unconstitutional, the Supreme Court itself acknowledged that the program helped boost the country's economy when it was most needed. The Ombudsman's decision also affirms the truth that I did not personally benefit from implementing the DAP. I never used public funds for my own gain, and I never will," Abad said in a statement.

However, a Commission on Audit report in 2014 disputed this. It stated that the goal of the DAP was not met due to delayed, slow, or non-release of funds to project proponents.

According to the Ombudsman, Abad issued National Budget Circular (NBC) No. 541 in 2012, which authorized the "withdrawal of unobligated allotments of agencies with low levels of obligations as of June 30, 2012."

"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," Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said in a press release.

The Ombudsman said this violated Article 239 the Revised Penal Code or the usurpation of legislative powers.

The Supreme Court declared the DAP unconstitutional in July 2014, as it encroached on the budget authority of Congress.

The Ombudsman also dismissed administrative charges against former Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos for lack of merit.