Malacañang yet again defended Budget Secretary Butch Abad amid the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda insists that Abad, who was nowhere to be seen after the high court ruling, did not commit plunder through the controversial economic stimulus program by the government.
“Winaldas ba ang pera ni Secretary Butch Abad? Hindi. Ninakaw ba ang pera? Hindi. Very, very clear categorical answers that neither acts happened. Did he personally gain from it? Hindi rin,” Lacierda said.
“You are required to have personal gain (in plunder) and Secretary Butch Abad did not, in any manner, shape or form, gain from any of these funds from this program,” Lacierda said further.
The Palace spokesman also shielded Abad from the plunder charges filed by several youth groups on Tuesday at the Office of the Ombudsman against the budget secretary.
In their 16-page petition, the groups said Abad “systematically misappropriated, converted, misused, and malversed public funds” through the DAP.
Lacierda, however, believes that the high court merely had a difference of opinion with the executive branch in implementing the DAP and in the interpretation of the law.
Lacierda said Abad is busying himself with the 2015 budget proposal that Malacañang will submit to Congress before the end of the month.
“We have no information as to when Secretary Abad will show up. Right now, however, may we beg your indulgence, he is in the midst of budget preparation,” he said.
As the Aquino administration has done in the past three years, the national budget will be submitted to Congress a day after the President’s State of the Nation Address, which will be on July 28.
“Abad has been meeting with several Cabinet agencies, and he has been working quietly to make sure that we are able to submit and present to the President the budget, the National Expenditures Program (NEP). So at this point, he is quite busy,” Lacierda said.
“I think the priority right now is really to ensure that we come up and finalize all the budget details on the NEP,” he added.