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Despite charges against him, former Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad said he is willing to take responsibility for the implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) since it was approved by former president Benigno Aquino III, and despite it being called illegal by the Supreme Court.

Abad said Aquino approved all DAP-related documents since all documents needed the president's signature.

"We endorse to the President and the President has the final approval…I sign the endorsements and the approval, it’s approved by the President. Of course all the projects are approved by the President,” Abad said.

He said he was willing to take full responsibility of the DAP controversy despite this and that he was willing to face allegations at the Ombudsman.

“That’s the finding of the Ombudsman and for me that’s fine because you know the President has to be busy doing what he has to be doing as President so I would want him not to have any distraction so that’s fine,” he said.

The Ombudsman investigated Abad and Undersecretary Mario Relampagos.

The Office did not investigate Aquino, since the accusations did not amount to an impeachable offense.

Some have claimed that the Ombudsman's action was meant to spare Aquino from any liability and have the Budget Secretary take the fall.

But according to political analyst Ramon Casiple, Abad is not the fall guy.

Terry Ridon, Kabataan Representatibe, said Abad should be charged at the Sandiganbayan immediately.

“Ombudsman (Conchita) Morales should take the cue from the DAP decision of the Supreme Court as it clearly challenges the public to hold Abad, and even President [Benigno] Aquino [3rd], accountable for creating DAP,” he said.

“While the Ombudsman could not yet file a case against the President due to his immunity, the Ombudsman should immediately charge Abad and Relampagos before the Sandiganbayan. The cases should be filed soonest,” he added.

Malacañang however, insisted that the implementation of DAP was in accordance with public interest.

Former Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said there was no need for Abad and Relampagos to leave the Cabinet as they were subject to primary investigation.

“The law does not require (resignation) because there’s still no need since the preliminary investigation has not been started,” the official said.

“Our position remains that the administration acted on its mandate with public interest as its highest consideration,” he added.

Abad welcomed the investigation.

Department of Budget and Management issued a statement on the matter. It read: “First, technical malversation does not suggest that the individuals in question committed acts of graft or corruption. Nor does the investigation imply that these individuals used public funds for their personal gain or benefit."

“Certainly, the inquiry is not a matter of whether individuals had stolen from public coffers,” it said.

“The inquiry involves the application of excess or unutilized public funds to existing priority government projects and programs that require additional funding. The investigation seeks to determine whether these uses of public funds constitute technical malversation, where public funds are used for a public purpose that differed—in a very technical sense—from the original plan,” DBM added.

To date, there have been no follow-ups on the preliminary investigation conducted last year. MJM

SOURCE: Manila Times

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