The Court of Appeals has affirmed the administrative liability of former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad over the illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program of the Aquino administration.
In a 15-page decision promulgated last Feb. 27, the CA’s Special 14th Division sustained the findings of the Office of the Ombudsman in March last year that Abad was guilty of simple misconduct.
The appellate court dismissed the petition of the former Budget secretary seeking reversal of the anti-graft office’s ruling.
The CA rejected Abad’s assertion of good faith in implementing the DAP during the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III.
“To be sure, Abad may not successfully evade liability by invoking good faith. While Abad’s desire to fast-track public spending and push economic growth is laudable and the implementation of the DAP, in fact, undeniably yielded positive results that enhanced the economic welfare of the country, his defenses cannot override the clear mandate of the law,” stated the CA decision penned by Associate Justice Zenaida Galapate-Laguilles.
“It is of no consequence, then, that no malice or corrupt motive impelled Abad into adopting the flawed procedures. As responsible public officer, Abad ought to have been well aware that he has no authority to overrule the requirements established rules and the fundamental law of the land,” it said.
In its ruling, the anti-graft body found Abad guilty of Simple Misconduct and ordered him suspended for three months.
Since Abad stepped down at the end of Aquino III’s term, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to his salary for three months.
Based on the investigation of the ombudsman, Abad unlawfully intruded on the powers of Congress by effectively modifying the provisions on savings in the General Appropriations Act of 2012 when he issued National Budget Circular No. 541, which consolidate savings or unutilized balances and withdraw unobligated balances of agencies with low levels of obligations.
Apart from the administrative findings, the Ombudsman also indicted Abad before the Sandiganbayan for violation of Article 239, or the Usurpation of Legislative Powers, of the Revised Penal Code after he allegedly unlawfully issued National Budget Circular 541 carrying out the implementation of DAP involving P72 billion.
In 2014, the Supreme Court declared DAP unconstitutional, particularly the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies; the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year without complying with the statutory definition of savings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; and the cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the executive.
Associate Justices Mario Lopez and Gabriel Robeniol concurred in this ruling.”‹