Lawmakers urged to declare position on DAP

Posted at 07/06/14 3:29 PM

‘Lawmakers committed illegal act in accepting DAP’

MANILA -- Lawyer Romulo Macalintal challenged lawmakers to make known their respective positions on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

“Instead of making premature statements on their respective positions on the possible impeachment of President Aquino, the leadership of both houses of Congress through Senate President Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, or through a collective resolution, should declare whether or not they agree with the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court (SC),” he said.

If they agree, Congress should ask members who received DAP funds to make a detailed accounting as to how these were used, he said. If not, they should already intervene in the DAP cases by filing a motion for reconsideration at the SC.

“When the DAP was declared unconstitutional by the SC, it means that our lawmakers committed a grave error or an illegal act when they accepted DAP from Malacanang,” the lawyer added, noting that the DAP was even alleged to have been used as bribe for senators who voted to oust Chief Justice Renato Corona.

“Thus, for our lawmakers to prejudge cases against those who benefited from the DAP is to add insult to injury,” he said.

Lawmakers should be impartial judges

Macalintal also reminded the lawmakers that they will be seating as “judges” in case an impeachment case proceeds and such an exercise requires the cold neutrality of an impartial judge.

“Hence, any premature statement on whether or not the President could be impeached in connection with the Supreme Court ruling that the DAP was ‘unconstitutional,’ deprives the Filipino people of an honest to goodness impeachment trial or one devoid of any political pressures and considerations,” he noted.

The SC last week declared acts under the DAP as unconstitutional. While the SC is not a trier of facts, several justices recognized the liabilities of the DAP operators, including Aquino and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

Malacanang defended the DAP, saying there was “good faith” when projects under it were implemented and thus, the officials should not be made liable.

“The ‘good faith’ portion of the DAP decision which seems to exonerate those responsible for the creation of DAP under the so-called ‘doctrine of operative fact’ was a mere obiter dictum or opinion of the Supreme Court. This is so because ‘good faith’ was never raised as an issue in any of the DAP petitions nor during the SC oral arguments,” Macalintal said.

This means that this obiter dictum is not binding on the parties, he said, and will not lead to their automatic acquittal from cases that may be filed.

“The SC, quoting from the separate opinion of Associate Justice Arturo Brion, made it clear that the defense of good faith may apply to ‘the beneficiaries’ of the DAP, but not to the authors, proponents and implementers of the DAP, unless there are concrete findings of good faith in their favor by the proper tribunals,” the lawyer added.