Lawmakers on Saturday branded as fake the resignation of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, saying it only bolstered an impeachment case against President Benigno Aquino III even as Malacanang called to end speculations surrounding Abad’s resignation, which Aquino rejected on Friday.
The Palace said that Aquino will address the controversy surrounding the Disbursement Acceleration Program and Abad’s ‘resignation’ in a live television broadcast on Monday at 6 p.m.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said that the President, along with his cohorts in Malacanang, have to be made accountable for a criminal offense on the issue of DAP, which was declared illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
“As author and architect of DAP, President Aquino must be held principally accountable through impeachment if he will not voluntarily (resign),” Zarate said.
Zarate said that if Malacanang has nothing to hide about the DAP, it can always release and make available to the public the specifics and documents of 116 projects under the DAP amounting to at least P150 Billion.
But the more it keeps the DAP transactions a secret, Zarate said, the more people believe that there was something illegal and unscrupulous about it.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon, who vowed to file an impeachment case against President Aquino, said his group would see to it that a strong impeachment case will be filed against Aquino.
Ridon pointed out that by supposedly revoking Abad’s resignation, President Aquino has given the people more reasons to push for his impeachment.
“Abad’s resignation clearly shows that Palace is unrepentant for DAP despite the SC decision and public clamor,” Ridon said, noting that Abad’s action was a “mere PR trick” aimed at gaining public sympathy for the embattled cabinet member, and consequently, the President.
“There is not even a speck of sincerity in Sec. Abad’s supposed resignation. Whoever thought of this Palace script is clearly new to his job. If Abad was truly repentant, he should have gone ahead and submit an irrevocable resignation,” he added.
Earlier, the House Independent Minority Bloc led by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said Abad should have submitted an irrevocable resignation if he was indeed sincere on his decision to vacate his post, adding that the refusal would show the other side of “Daang Matuwid.”
“At this stage when no less than the Supreme Court has spoken, Sec. Abad is a clear baggage to President Aquino. Better if an irrevocable resignation has been made than submitting a mere publicity stunt. It goes to show the other side of good governance of this administration. A bad move because this government is not sensitive to public opinion,” Romualdez said.
But Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that while people can express their opinions on Abad’s resignation, Aquino has already made his decision.
She added that further discussions on whether or not Abad should have made his resignation irrevocable would be “just kicking the can around.”
Besides, she said Aquino’s rejection of Abad’s resignation shows his confidence in Abad, as well as in the “reforms that have been initiated under their collective watches.”
Meanwhile, Malacanang has requested major television networks to cover Aquino’s address on Monday.
Aquino’s message comes amid growing criticisms on the DAP and calls for Abad to explain how the controversial DAP funds were spent.
Abad, who tendered his resignation on Thursday but rejected by the President the next day, was summoned to a Senate public hearing on July 21. He was also asked to submit a complete list of all special allotment release orders (SAROs) that were disbursed under the outlawed DAP.
Aquino said the DAP benefited the Filipino people.
“To accept his resignation is to assign to him a wrong and I cannot accept the notion that doing right by our people is a wrong,” Aquino said.
As this developed, former national treasurer Leonor Briones said that there should be restitution in the DAP release to senators.
“There has to be restitution since DAP was declared unconstitutional,” Briones said in a weekly forum in Quezon City.
“The return of the money does not mean guilt.”
Briones said the P1.07 billion in lump sum appropriations released to 20 senators pooled under DAP at the height of the impeachment of former chief justice Renato Corona must be given back to the government.
She added that Abad must also be held liable for the realignment of government savings into DAP, since it was the Department of Budget and Management that crafted the circular creating DAP.
Briones said that the president should also be held administratively accountable.
Earlier, Briones said the President had failed to defend the Constitution when he publicly defended DAP.
Briones, Social watch lead convenor, along with former budget secretary Benjamin Diokno and Dean Froilan Bacungan of the Philippine Constitution Association, filed the first petition on DAP with the High Court as early as October 2013.
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