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Palace clears Abad of plunder over DAP

Louis Bacani - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Wednesday again cleared Budget Secretary Florencio Abad of any liability in the implementation of the partially unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda insists that Abad, considered as the brains behind the DAP, did not commit plunder through the controversial economic stimulus program.

"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 at a televised press briefing.

"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 also said.

Lacierda defended Abad after some youth groups led by the Kabataan Party-list filed plunder charges yesterday at the Office of the Ombudsman against the embattled Cabinet official.

In their 16-page petition, the groups said Abad "systematically misappropriated, converted, misused, and malversed public funds" through the DAP.

The complaint came a week after the Supreme Court declared key parts of the DAP as unconstitutional.

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.

The Palace official said Abad is doing "fine" amid the DAP controversy. He said Abad has yet to face the public because he is busy with the budget preparations and with several meetings.

"At the appropriate time, I believe Secretary Butch Abad will come out," Lacierda said.

On the issue of the budget chief's resignation, Lacierda said it is "a conversation between the President and Secretary Butch Abad."

But Lacierda expects the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate Abad the same way it did to the officials implicated in the pork barrel scam.

"We expect the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct its constitutional duty. The process that they have done in any investigation they did... we expect them to apply it equally to any person that has been charged with a crime," Lacierda said.

Lacierda also maintained that the executive branch did not misuse public funds under the DAP.

"Yung sa 91 percent (of the DAP funds) na paggamit ng executive branch, wala po kaming duda roon," he said.

Aquino's spokesman also pointed out that even the Supreme Court confirmed the positive effects of DAP in its decision released last week.

"If the Supreme Court said it was used for ill purposes, they would have said so. But the Supreme Court said no doubt, DAP was used to benefit the economy," Lacierda said.

ABAD BUDGET SECRETARY FLORENCIO ABAD BUT LACIERDA BUT THE SUPREME COURT DAP DISBURSEMENT ACCELERATION PROGRAM LACIERDA OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN SECRETARY BUTCH ABAD SUPREME COURT
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