Court of Appeals upholds Abad’s conviction by Ombudsman

March 14, 2019

THE Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the administrative liability of former budget secretary Florencio Abad over the illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the previous administration.

In a 15-page ruling, the CA upheld the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman in March last year that found Abad guilty of simple misconduct.

It dismissed the petition of the former official seeking reversal of the Ombudsman ruling.

The CA rejected Abad’s claim of good faith in implementing the DAP during the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III.

“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,” read the ruling.

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

In the assailed ruling, the Ombudsman found Abad guilty of simple misconduct and ordered him suspended for three months. Since Abad stepped down at the end of President Benigno Aquino III’s term, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to his salary for three months.

Based on the investigation of the ombudsman, Abad unlawfully intruded on the powers of Congress by effectively modifying the provisions on savings in the General Appropriations Act 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.