SC APPROVES GUIDELINES FOR DAP DEBATES / PALACE: PEOPLE IS 'ULTIMATE JUDGE'

MANILA, NOVEMBER 4, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Edu Punay - The Supreme Court approved yesterday a set of guidelines for oral arguments on petitions contesting the legality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The SC prepared the guidelines after a preliminary conference with counsels of petitioners and respondents who are set to meet again on Nov. 11 for the start of oral arguments.

The High Tribunal did not release copies of the guidelines to reporters.

Also yesterday, the SC gave concerned executive and legislative officials until Nov. 7 to answer the seventh petition against DAP filed by religious sects last week.

PETITIONS FILED

Yeshua Change Agents, Bible Mode and Capitol Christian Leaders led by former Manila councilor Greco Belgica filed the latest petition against DAP.

The two-page order was issued on orders from acting Chief Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. and released while the SC was on recess.

The new petition has been consolidated with the six earlier petitions filed by:
former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco,
lawyers Jose Malvar Villegas Jr. and
Manuelito Luna, Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa),
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the
Bayan Muna, Kabataan and Gabriela party-list groups.

The justices and the parties in the case against DAP have set six major issues to be debated on by both sides, according to SC public information office. However, the list of the issues – classified into procedural and substantive – was not immediately released.

VIOLATION OF POWERS OF CONGRESS

Petitioners have alleged that the discretionary fund of the President violates the exclusive power of Congress to appropriate funds.

They said the use of the DAP violated Article VI Section 29 (1) of the Constitution, which requires that “no money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.”

They also argued that the constitution prohibits transfer of funds from one branch of government to another without necessary law as stipulated in Article VI Section 25 of the Constitution.

Article XXV Section 24, on the other hand, gives Congress exclusive “power of the purse.”

Critics of DAP have also branded it as pork barrel fund in disguise. The congressional pork barrel is officially called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

RETIRED GENERALS

A group of retired generals, meanwhile, has issued a statement calling for the abolition of DAP and PDAF.

The generals, who called their group Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Alumni Advocacy Group, said the current issues involving public funds are “a result of a systems failure in governance, exacerbated by a breach of ethical standards by some public officials.”

“National progress and the upliftment of the quality of life of the Filipino, especially the less fortunate in the society, can be better achieved if public funds are properly used,” a manifesto prepared by the group read.

The former generals listed as signatories of the manifesto were:
Rosalino Alquiza (PMA class ’55),
Rafael Enriquez, (class ’57),
Plaridel Abaya (class ’59)
Galileo Kintanar (class ’60),
Reynaldo Reyes (class ’64),
Fredelino Bautista (class ’66),
Manuel Espejo (class ’66),
Mariano Santiago (class ’67),
Victor Abat (class ’77),
Ramon Farolan (class ’56),
Alfredo Adriano Jr. (class ’58),
Carlos Agustin (class ’59),
Rene Ebro (class ’63),
Jose Solquillo (class ’65),
Guillermo Cunanan (class ’66),
Raul Urgello (class ’66) and
Alejandro Flores Jr. (class ’72).
However, the manifesto contained only the signatures of Alquiza, Bautista, Ebro and Solquillo.

Sought for comment, Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the retired generals have the right to express their views on various issues.

“This is a manifesto by retired officers and there is freedom of speech. They can say whatever they want and we respect that,” Zagala said. – Mayen Jaymalin, Alexis Romero, Marvin Sy

Nation 'ultimate judge' of lawmakers in pork scam - Palace By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated October 31, 2013 - 4:21pm 0 0 googleplus0 0


Senators (from left) Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

MANILA, Philippines - Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada have reportedly responded to last night's speech of President Benigno Aquino III, but Malacañang wants to leave the judgment to the hands of the public.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Sec. Sonny Coloma said in a press briefing that the Palace recognizes the senators' right to express their own stand.

"Kung iyon ang kanilang naging tugon, bayan naman ang ultimate judge at gagawa ng determination," Coloma said.

On Thursday, Revilla reacted to the speech of Aquino, who fired back at his critics in his speech last night for allegedly turning the tables against him.

The President said those allegedly involved in the pork barrel scam muddled the issue and attacked the Disbursement Acceleration Program of his administration.

"In the midst of all their extended counter-accusations hurled against me, not once have I heard them say: “I did not steal,” Aquino said.

The chief executive added that unlike his critics, he is not a thief.

Responding to Aquino's speech, Revilla claimed on Thursday that he, too, did not steal.

"Hindi ako magnanakaw at wala akong ninakaw sa kaban ng bayan," Revilla said.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Estrada, Revilla: We didn’t steal too By Maila Ager INQUIRER.net 10:35 am | Thursday, October 31st, 2013

MANILA, Philippines — Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. said they, too, did not steal from the public coffers.

Estrada and Revilla made the remarks after President Benigno Aquino III, in a televised address to the nation Wednesday night, said that he was not a thief.

“Ako naman po suportado po ako sa mga sinabi nya hahabulin nya yung mga nagsamantala sa kaban ng bayan. Ako’y kaisa nila. Kaisa ako ng gobyerno nyo nya sa paghahabol ng magnanakaw sa ating gobyerno,” Estrada said in a radio interview on Thursday. (I support his statements that he will go after those who take advantage of the public funds. I’m with them,I’m with his government in going after the thieves in government)

“Sapagkat ako kahit akoy nasangkot sa  diumanoy PDAF scam, gusto ko pong sabihin sa inyo na kahit kailan
hindi ako nagnakaw sa kaban ng bayan,” he said. (Because even If I were dragged into the PDAF scam, I want to tell you that I have never stolen anything from the public coffers)

PDAF is Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel” funds.

Estrada and Revilla were among those facing plunder charges for allegedly funneling their ”pork” to bogus non-government organizations identified with detained Janet Lim-Napoles.

But Estrada expressed hopes that the President was not referring to him as one of those muddling the issue on PDAF by allegedly diverting the public’s attention to the alleged anomalous Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the government.

While he exposed in a privilege speech the additional “pork barrel” funds given to senators who voted to impeach then Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012, Estrada said he made no mention of the DAP.

Estrada said it was Budget Secretary Florencio Abad,who had claimed that the additional funds given to the senators were coursed through the DAP.

Despite this, Estrada said he still considered the President a friend and ally of his administration.

“Alam mo si Pangulong Aquino kaibigan ko naman yan at until now, I consider mytelf as an ally of this administration. I’m very supportive of all his legislative agenda…” Estrada added.

Like Estrada, Revilla through his lawyer also asserted that he did not steal from the public coffers.

“Hindi ako magnanakaw at wala akong ninakaw sa kaban ng bayan,” he said in a text message sent by his legal counsel, Joel Bodegon. (I’m not a thief and and I did not steal from the public coffers.)

In fact, Revilla said, he was the first to deny any involvement in the PDAF scam and had even called for a thorough investigation of the issue.

“Handa ako at haharapin ko ang anumang imbestigasyon upang linisin ko ang aking pangalan sa mga kasinungalingan laban sa akin,” he added.

And whatever the President says, Revilla said: “The DAP is presidential pork and that is a fact.”

“The President’s explanation on DAP raised more questions than answers. No senator or congressman knew
about the DAP. It did not pass through Congress. Then too, he did not know that the DAP was used in the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona,” the senator added.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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