MANILA, Philippines – When will Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad explain his side on his braindchild, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), whose parts that the Supreme Court recently declared unconstitutional?
The President's spokesman has no information on whether a statement is forthcoming, saying instead that Abad is focused on preparing the proposed 2015 budget.
Since the SC decision on July 1, Abad has yet to address the public and issue a statement, while various sectors have called for his resignation. He is also facing a plunder complaint before the Ombudsman over the DAP, which he designed to transfer funds from supposedly slow-disbursing projects to fast-disbursing ones to ramp up economic spending.
Malacañang on Wednesday, July 9, said Abad is focusing on preparations for the 2015 budget rather than dwelling on the controversy over DAP.
"I think the priority right now is really to ensure that we come up and finalize all the budget details on the National Expenditures Program. Maybe at an appropriate time, but when that will be, we will let you know or he will decide to come out," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
Abad has been in "several meetings" with the President since the ruling on DAP came out, Lacierda said.
Asked whether Abad would resign, Lacierda said, "You know, on the issue of resignation, that is a conversation between the President and Secretary Butch Abad. So, let’s leave it at that."
Malacañang is confident the plunder complaint against Abad won't prosper.
Lacierda said Abad did not "in any manner, shape, or form gain from any of these programs."
The Palace has yet to release the full list of projects that were funded under DAP. Why the delay? Lacierda said they are still collating all data from Cabinet secretaries and other officials on how they used the funds.
"Again, there was implementation involved. Implementation is with the Cabinet agencies, so we need all these things. That’s why, if you ask the secretaries, they can answer right away. But we are still collating everything. We will let you know," Lacierda said in a mix of English and Filipino.
So far, senators Franklin Drilon and Pia Cayetano, as well former Senator Edgardo Angara have reported how they spent funds under the DAP. The Department of Social Welfare and Development has made a report too. –Angela Casauay/Rappler.com