For the Record: The President on DAP, cross-border transfers, and the Supreme Court during his Mabini 150 speech
During his speech on the commemoration of Apolinario Mabini’s 150th birth anniversary,
President Benigno S. Aquino III recalled three of Mabini’s most
important political ideologies, one of which is the exigency of the
Executive Branch to act upon the needs of its people. This ideology,
when put in a contemporary light, is the primary motivation behind the
Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The President further recounts
the benefits brought to the people by the program, together with its
constitutionality, the Supreme Court’s own history of conducting
cross-border transfers, and the administration’s hope for the success of
its motion for reconsideration submitted to the Supreme Court.
We are lifting some of the President’s points and laying them out below, for your information and reference.
Main objective of DAP
DAP was designed to deliver benefits to
citizens as quickly as possible. As a program, it maximized public
spending in order to provide immediate assistance and alleviate
suffering. This was done in the service of the Filipino people.
Benefits of DAP
DAP made possible numerous projects that
improved the lives of many Filipinos. Here are three programs in three
DAP-funded sectors, which were mentioned in the President’s speech:
Education: DAP financed the
education of 223,615 TESDA scholars, 66% of which already have gotten
jobs following their training. The rest are being assisted by TESDA in
Disaster risk reduction: DAP
financed the DREAM-LiDAR project under Project NOAH, providing the
public with exact and reliable information on flooding during typhoons.
Now, the government is able to release warnings at least 6 hours before
Tourism: 66 of the 202 roads
leading to priority destinations in the country were funded through DAP.
These roads allow tourists to travel the country more easily, thus
boosting the industry.
On the legal basis of DAP
DAP was implemented with sound legal basis. Such executive powers
are outlined in Sections 38, 39, and 49 of the Administrative Code of
1987, which is in line with the Constitution.
Previous administrations also implemented similar programs.
On cross-border transfers and the judiciary
Even the Supreme Court’s history shows examples of intent of cross-border transfers.
In July 2012, the Supreme Court earmarked its savings—amounting to
1.865 billion pesos—to augment the budget for the Manila Hall of
Justice. This constitutes an intent to conduct a cross-border transfer,
since the appropriation item for constructing Halls of Justice is found
in the DOJ budget, which is under the Executive Branch.
Also in 2012, the Supreme Court wrote to the Executive Branch,
requesting the transfer of 100 million pesos, intended for the Manila
Hall of Justice, to the Malabon Hall of Justice: Wherefore, the court
hereby requests the Department of Budget and Management to approve the
transfer of the amount of One Hundred Million Pesos which was included
in the DOJ-JUSIP for Fiscal Year 2012 budget for the Manila Hall of
Justice to the budget of the judiciary, subject to existing policies and
procedures, to be used for the construction of the Malabon Hall of
They only withdrew this request at the height of the DAP issue.
On the separation of powers
In the examples mentioned above, it is clear that the intended
transfers occurred not because the Executive Branch offered help, but
because other branches asked for assistance. Because the projects were
for the benefit of the Filipino people, it was deemed right to provide
Each of the branches is supreme in its own sphere. The Judiciary has
power over the interpretation of the law, while the Executive has the
mandate to execute projects that will benefit the whole nation. The
President considers the welfare of all citizens.
On “good faith”
Normally, “good faith” is understood as acting with pure intentions.
Legally, it carries an additional layer of meaning: acting with sound
legal basis. As such, even if your legal basis was struck down in court,
one cannot say that you acted in bad faith.
The President points out that, consequently, the Supreme Court
decision on DAP is changing this understanding of good faith. This has
many implications for government.
Each member of the Executive Branch has to make decisions. It is only natural that sometimes these decisions will be questioned.
The President quoted Abraham Lincoln: “You can please some of the
people some of the time; all of the people some of the time; some of the
people all of the time; but you can never please all the people all the
Within our country’s system, if someone accuses the government of
wrongdoing, the obligation lies with the accuser to provide sufficient
evidence of this. If the accused did everything according to the law and
the right processes, then he has nothing to fear.
But in the Supreme Court’s decision on DAP, the implementors now
have to be the ones to prove their good faith, as though they are
already presumed guilty.
This will also have a chilling effect on the government. Now, each
time an official is faced with a decision, he has to consider whether it
will be deemed wrong in the future. How can anyone pass standards that
have not yet been established?
On the motion for reconsideration
When it comes to the law, the Supreme Court has the last word. But
the system also provides mechanisms for reconsideration. The Aquino
administration has filed a motion for reconsideration listing all its
This is a legitimate process within our system. It would give all
parties a chance to reconsider the arguments, and avoid making a
decision that would be detrimental to our country.