By Rey Panaligan
The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the administrative liability for simple misconduct of former budget secretary Florencio Abad in the implementation of the outlawed Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the previous administration.
In a decision written by Associate Justice Zenaida Galapate Laguilles, the CA affirmed the ruling of the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) which found Abad administratively liable for simple misconduct.
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.
With the ruling, the CA dismissed Abad’s petition which challenged the OMB’s resolution.
In dismissing Abad’s claim of good faith in the implementation of DAP, the CA said:
“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.
“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.”
In finding Abad administratively liable, the OMB said that the former budget secretary 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 consolidate savings or unutilized balances and withdraw unobligated balances of agencies with low levels of obligations.
The Supreme Court (SC) declared DAP unconstitutional in its 2014 decision, specifically on the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies; the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year without complying with the statutory definition of savings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.