CA affirms simple misconduct charge vs Abad over DAP

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    THE Court of Appeals has upheld its decision finding former budget secretary Florencio Abad administratively liable for simple misconduct in the implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the Aquino administration which has been declared illegal by the Supreme Court.

    In a resolution penned by Associate Justice Zenaida Galapate-Laguilles, the CA’s former Special Fourteenth Division said Abad failed to raise new arguments to convince the court to reverse its February 27, 2019 decision which upheld the findings of the Office of the Ombudsman holding him accountable for simple misconduct.

    “After a review of the grounds relied upon by the petitioner, this Court finds no compelling reason to amend our decision as the issues raised have already been resolved and covered extensively in the assailed resolution,” the-four page resolution promulgated last November 25 said.

    The appellate court affirmed its earlier finding that Abad intruded on the powers of Congress by effectively modifying the provisions on savings in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2012 when he issued National Budget Circular No. 541, which consolidated savings or unutilized balances and withdrew unobligated balances of agencies with low levels of obligations.

    NBC 541 provided the principal bases for the withdrawal of unobligated allotments which were declared as “savings” and used to fund programs, activities, and projects under the DAP.

    The CA noted the arguments raised by the high court when it declared the DAP as illegal: the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies; the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year without complying with the statutory definition of savings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 branch.

    The SC had also criticized that the circular even provided for an abbreviated process for determining the amount of unobligated allotments to be withdrawn.

    “Thus, 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,’ the CA said.

    “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 of established rules and the fundamental law of the land,” it added.

    The CA said that since Abad is no longer in public service and may not be suspended anymore, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to his three-month salary.
    Concurring with the resolution are Associate Justices Mario Lopez and Gabriel Robeniol.