It is now time for reckoning. The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) is calling for a public audit and disclosure of the projects funded by the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in the wake of the final Supreme Court (SC) decision reiterating the program’s unconstitutionality.

FDC also denounces the Aquino III administration’s shameless rejoicing over the so-called concessions it gained from the final SC decision such as the removal of the prohibition on funding of projects, activities and programs that were not covered by the General Appropriations Act (GAA). This presumptuous proclamation of victory, just like its earlier behavior after the botched Mamasapano police operations, is another clear display of the administration’s serious lack of sense of accountability.

Aquino III and his cohorts could have opted to come clean by disclosing the details of 116 DAP-funded projects in question. Instead, the reactions of “authors” and defenders of the notorious savings and augmentation program were tantamount to a blatant public declaration of their triumph in circumventing laws and thus, escape responsibility for the misuse of public funds, by playing up a technical detail in what can be augmented in the national budget after it has been approved by Congress.

Budget Secretary Butch Abad even had the audacity to express intent to continue DAP or a DAP-like program at the pretext of hitting economic growth targets for this year. What this suggests is that the people were again misled when he claimed before the SC justices that DAP had been “discontinued for having fully served its purpose.”

Evidently, Aquino III’s buddies were quick to downplay the proviso that came along with the removal of the prohibition and that this meant that they have some serious explaining to do to the public on what activities, projects, and programs the savings came from and were diverted to. It has been almost two years since the DAP was exposed but the people have been consistently denied the details of how the program was implemented.

More than anything else, the SC ruling revives a lingering challenge to the entire nation to remain vigilant in protecting its ownership over the national budget and to assert the people’s participation and decision in the budget process. Sustaining and intensifying public clamor for transparency and accountability must pave the way for instituting reforms and finally end the dictatorship enjoyed and even abused by the Executive over the use of people’s money.

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