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SC moves DAP oral arguments to Jan. 28

(Updated 5:37 p.m.) The Supreme Court has deferred the resumption of the oral arguments on the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program.
This was confirmed on Monday by SC Public Information Office chief Theodore Te, who added in a text message: "Waiting for resolution because there is a condition imposed." 

Oral debates were supposed to resume on Tuesday, in which it would have been the government's turn, through the Office of the Solicitor General, to present their arguments in support of the DAP.
In a media statement released by the SC PIO later in the afternoon, the high court said it has rescheduled the oral arguments for January 28.
The SC was prompted to postpone the debates after Congress filed a motion asking that it be allowed to get its own set of lawyers and "not rely on the Office of the Solicitor General."
"The Court took note of the uniform reason given by both chambers for the resetting, i.e., that both chambers of Congress have found it necessary to be represented by counsel separate from the Solicitor General of the Philippines and thus would need additional time to engage such counsel and for counsel to prepare for the oral arguments," said the SC.
It was also the OSG which represented Congress in a seperate case contesting the legislature's Priority Development Assistance Fund. Congress lost in that case as the high court declared the PDAF, commonly referred to as "pork barrel fund," as unconsritutional.
The high court gave Congress 10 days from receipt of the postponement notice to submit the names of Congress' chosen legal counsels.
"(The petitioners should) have said counsels formally enter their appearance in these cases for their respective clients," said the SC.

DAP projects
At the same time, the high court also ordered the Department of Budget and Management to submit a list of all DAP projects, sources of funds, and how they were spent.
"The Department of Budget and Management shall furnish to the Court on or before January 21, 2014 a list of all sources of funds brought under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the uses of such funds pursuant to DAP per project or activity and the legal bases thereof," said the SC.
The first day of oral debates was held last November 19, in which six lawyers representing the nine petitioners took turns in convincing the SC magistrates that the discretionary funds were illegal.
Nine petitions have already been filed with the high court contesting the legality of the DAP, a discretionary fund that hit the headlines after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada bared that several senators received P50 million to P100 million last year after the conviction of then-Chief Justice Renato Corona by the Senate impeachment court.
The Aquino government said the fund came from "unobligated allotments of all agencies with low level of obligations as of June 30, 2012 both for continuing and current allotment" that President Benigno Aquino III ordered withdrawn on June 27, 2012.
The “withdrawn funds” were deemed as savings by Aquino and Budget Secretary Butch Abad and realigned to “augment existing programs and projects of other agencies” and “fund priority programs and projects not considered in the 2012 budget but expected to be started or implemented within the current year.”

Not savings
During the November 19 oral arguments, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio declared that the sources of the controversial DAP funds could not be considered as "savings," contrary to the Aquino administration's claim.
Carpio said the DAP funds had been realigned even without a written authorization from the president.
Carpio added that under the law, savings must be returned to general fund, and could only later be used for to augment items in the national budget provided there is an appropriation law for it.
In defending their position against the DAP, lawyer Raymond Fortun, one of the counsels of the petitioners, warned that the DAP could be used to impeach government officials, just like what happened to former Chief Justice Remato Corona, who was ousted after an impeachment court found him guilty of not declaring his actual wealth.

In interpellating Fortun, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen did not seem amused by the lawyer's statement.
"Do you think we will rule in your favor because we fear impeachment?This is a court of law and you want to imply that bribery did occur with certain members of Congress," Leonen said. — RSJ, GMA News