Palace clears Abad: No plunder there

Posted at 07/09/14 4:18 PM

Abad will come out in due time - Lacierda

MANILA - President Benigno Aquino III’s spokesman cleared Budget Secretary Florencio Abad of any liability in the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said, "I think plunder requires personal gain… And Secretary Butch Abad did not - in any manner, shape, or form - gain from any of these programs.”

He said the intention of the DAP was very clear. “Ang kanyang ginawa po ay para lang mapabilis ang paggamit ng pondo ng ating kaban para sa mas gumaganang mga proyekto.”

Abad is facing a plunder complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Winaldas ba ang pera ni Secretary Butch Abad? Hindi. Ninakaw ba ang pera? Hindi. Very, very clear, categorical answers that neither acts happened. Did he personally gain from it? Hindi rin,” Lacierda insisted.

He reiterated anew that realigning the savings was only merited, contrary to the decision of the Supreme Court.

"I think it will be prudent for the executive branch to move the funds from a slow-moving project, declare them as savings, and then shift it to a fast-moving project. That’s where the difference in definition of savings came about,” he said.

Even the SC admitted to the positive effects of the DAP, he said.

Lacierda expects due process in the case of Abad before the Ombudsman.

“We expect the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct its constitutional duty. The process that they have done in any investigation they did, in any evaluation, in any process that they have internally -- we expect them to apply it equally to any person that has been charged with a crime,” he said.

He said Abad has chosen to keep mum for now as he is working “and is very busy” on the 2015 national budget.

“We have no information kung kailan niya planong lumabas. May we beg your indulgence, he is in the midst of budget preparation. So he has been meeting with several Cabinet agencies and he has been working quietly to make sure that we are able to submit and present to the President the National Expenditures Program,” he said.

He said it is important that the NEP is finalized.

Abad will come out at the appropriate time, he said.