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NOYNOY AQUINO CLEARED
Ombudsman indicts Butch Abad over Aquino admin’s P72-B DAP
Published March 7, 2017 4:57pm
Updated March 7, 2017 6:13pm
By ERWIN COLCOL, GMA News
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has found probable cause to charge former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad with usurpation of legislative powers, a crime under the Revised Penal Code, over the Aquino administration's implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program.
Meanwhile, the criminal and administrative charges against former President Benigno Aquino III and Deparment of Budget and Management Undersecretary Mario Relampagos have been dismissed.
The Ombudsman accused Abad of violating Article 239, or usurpation of legislative powers, of the RPC for unlawfully issuing the National Budget Circular No. 541 that was used to carry out the DAP.
In addition, 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 complaint against Abad and Aquino was filed by Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate, Renato Reyes, Benjamin Valbuena, Dante LA Jimenez, Mae Paner, Antonio Flores, Gloria Arellano and Bonifacio Carmona, Jr.
The Ombudsman's investigation showed that Abad illegally encroached on the powers of Congress, saying he modified the provisions on savings of the 2012 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
NBC No. 541 allowed the DBM to withdraw “unobligated allotments of agencies with low levels of obligations as of June 30, 2012, both for continuing and current allotments.”
"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," the Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman, however, said there is no probable cause that the respondents committed technical malversation, as claimed by the complainants.
"They cannot be indicted for Technical Malversation since they did not 'apply' public funds to other public purposes. The issuance and approval of memoranda and budget circular, in a strict sense, cannot be equated with application of public funds under the statute," the decision read.
No bad faith
The Ombudsman also found no probable cause that the respondents violated Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The complainants argued that Aquino and Abad exposed evident bad faith and inexcusable negligence in their alleged act.
But the Ombudsman said: "It cannot be said that the respondents acted with either evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence in implementing the authority to transfer funds to augment deficient items in the GAA."
"It cannot be likewise be said that they acted without care or with conscious indifference to consequences in so far as other persons may be affected."
Meanwhile, the Ombudsman said the administrative complaint against Aquino and Relampagos should be dismissed.
The Ombudsman said it has no jurisdiction over Aquino's administrative charges.
"In another vein and at all events, the administrative charges were filed after Aquino ceased to be a public official, hence outside the administrative jurisdiction of this Office," its decision read.
Relampagos' administrative charges, on the other hand, were dismissed for lack of merit.
"In view of this Office's finding that there is no probable cause that Abad and Relampagos committed Technical Malversation in connection with the cross-border transfers, this Office is constrained to dismiss the counterpart administrative case based on the same facts," the decision read.
In 2014, the Supreme Court declared several acts committed in the pursuance of DAP as constitutional.
These include the "withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies; and 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."
Another is the "cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the executive." —NB/MDM/JST, GMA News
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