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Thursday, 21 November 2013 08:00

Supreme Court: PDAF Unconstitutional

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The Supreme Court, voting 14-0-1, has declared the pork barrel system unconstitutional.

In similar regard, the SC enjoins that the release of funds sourced from the Presidential Social Fund “to finance priority development projects, pursuant to Sec. 12 of Presidential Decree No. 1869, as amended by PD. No. 1993, “shall not be disbursed/released but instead returned to the general coffers of the government, except for the funds covered by the Malampaya funds and the Presidential Social Fund which shall remain therein to be utilized for their respective special purposes not otherwise declared unconstitutional.

The Court, however, has denied petitioners’ request that the Executive Secretary and/or the Department of Budget and Management be ordered to provide the public and the Commission on Audit complete lists/schedules or detailed reports related to the availments and utilization of the funds subject of these cases.

“Petitioners’ access to official documents already available and of public record which are not related to these funds must, however, not be prohibited but merely subjected to the custodian’s reasonable regulations or any valid statutory prohibition on the same. This denial is without prejudice to a proper mandamus case which they or the Commission on Audit may choose to pursue through a separate petition,” the Court stated.

In addition, the Court denied petitioners’ wish for the inclusion of the funds subject of these cases in the budgetary deliberations of Congress as the same is a matter left to the prerogative of the political branches of government.

Finally, the Court directs the investigation and accordingly prosecution “of all government officials and/or private individuals for possible criminal offenses related to the irregular, improper and/or unlawful disbursement/utilization of all funds under the Pork Barrel System.”

Meanwhile, senate members welcome the ruling on PDAF, saying they will abide with the decision of the Supreme Court.

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said the rulings affirmed the earlier position of the senate on the constitutionality of the controversial pork barrel.

“The highest court’s decision is moot and academic insofar as the Senate is concerned, as the senators have already waived their use of the remaining PDAF for 2013. Also, a majority of the senators, at least 15 of us, have already decided to fully delete the PDAF in the 2014 budget, which in effect will lower the country’s budget deficit pegged at P266.2 billion.”

He said the decision will serve as the start of more concrete reforms aimed at curbing corruption and misuse of taxpayers’ money.

“The Senate will see to it that henceforth, all officials shall adhere to laws and rules and regulations governing the use of public funds.”

With this, Drilon said the Upper House is eyeing the passage of a supplemental budget for 2013, specifically the unused portion of the PDAF of 2013, for other important matters.

Drilon said the senate will ask the president to certify it as urgent which could be used by the executive branch to bolster the relief operations and rehabilitation of areas affected by recent calamities, including the super typhoon Yolanda that hit Eastern Visayas. (with reports from Ron B. Lopez)

Full copy of the Supreme Court decision below.

“In view of the constitutional violations discussed in this Decision, the Court hereby declares as UNCONSTITUTIONAL: (a) the entire 2013 PDAF Article; (b) all legal provisions of past and present Congressional Pork Barrel Laws, such as the previous PDAF and CDF Articles and the various Congressional Insertions, which authorize/d legislators—whether individually or collectively organized into committees—to intervene, assume or participate in any of the various post-enactment stages of the budget execution, such as but not limited to the areas of project identification, modification and revision of project identification, fund release and/or fund realignment, unrelated to the power of congressional oversight; (c) all legal provisions of past and present Congressional Pork Barrel laws, such as the previous PDAF and CDF Articles and the various Congressional Insertions, which confer/red personal, lump-sum allocations to legislators from which they are able to fund specific projects which they themselves determine; (d) all informal practices of similar import and effect, which the Court similarly deems to be acts of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of discretion; and (e) the phrases (1) “and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President” under Section 8 of Presidential Decree No. 910 and (2) “to finance the priority infrastructure development projects” under Section 12 of PD 1869, as amended by PD 1993, for both failing the sufficient standard test in violation of the principle of non-delegability of legislative power.”

“WHEREFORE, the petitions are PARTLY GRANTED. In view of the constitutional violations discussed in this Decision, the Court hereby declares as UNCONSTITUTIONAL: (a) the entire 2013 PDAF Article; (b) all legal provisions of past and present Congressional Pork Barrel Laws, such as the previous PDAF and CDF Articles and the various Congressional Insertions, which authorize/d legislators—whether individually or collectively organized into committees—to intervene, assume or participate in any of the various post-enactment stages of the budget execution, such as but not limited to the areas of project identification, modification and revision of project identification, fund release and/or fund realignment, unrelated to the power of congressional oversight; (c) all legal provisions of past and present Congressional Pork Barrel laws, such as the previous PDAF and CDF Articles and the various Congressional Insertions, which confer/red personal, lump-sum allocations to legislators from which they are able to fund specific projects which they themselves determine; (d) all informal practices of similar import and effect, which the Court similarly deems to be acts of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of discretion; and (e) the phrases (1) “and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President” under Section 8 of Presidential Decree No. 910 and (2) “to finance the priority infrastructure development projects” under Section 12 of PD 1869, as amended by PD 1993, for both failing the sufficient standard test in violation of the principle of non-delegability of legislative power.

Accordingly, the Court’s temporary injunction dated September 10, 2013 is hereby declared to be PERMANENT. Thus, the disbursement/release of the remaining PDAF Funds allocated for the year 2013, as well as for all previous years, and the Malampaya Funds under the phrase, “and for such other purposes as may hereafter be directed by the President” pursuant to Section 8 of Presidential Decree No, 910, which are, at the time this Decision is promulgated, not covered by Notice of Cash Allocations (NCA) but only by Special Allotment Release Orders, whether obligated or ot, are hereby ENJOINED. In similar regard, the Court also enjoins the release of funds sourced from the Presidential Social Fund under the phrase, “to finance the the priority infrastructure development projects” pursuant to Section 12 of Presidential Decree No. 1869, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1993. Said funds covered by this permanent injunction shall not be disbursed/released but instead returned to the general coffers of the government, except for the funds covered by the Malampaya funds and the Presidential Social Fund which shall remain therein to be utilized for their respective special purposes not otherwise declared unconstitutional.

On the other hand, due to improper recourse and lack of proper substantiation, the Court hereby DENIES petitioners’ prayer seeking that the Executive Secretary and/or the Department of Budget and Management be ordered to provide the public and the Commission on Audit complete lists/schedules or detailed reports related to the availments and utilization of the funds subject of these cases. Petitioners’ access to official documents already available and of public record which are not related to these funds must, however, not be prohibited but merely subjected to the custodian’s reasonable regulations or any valid statutory prohibition on the same. This denial is without prejudice to a proper mandamus case which they or the Commission on Audit may choose to pursue through a separate petition.

The Court also DENIES petitioners’ prayer to order the inclusion of the funds subject of these cases in the budgetary deliberations of Congress as the same is a matter left to the prerogative of the political branches of government.

Finally, the Court hereby DIRECTS all prosecutorial organs of the government to, within the bounds of reasonable dispatch, investigate and accordingly prosecute all government officials and/or private individuals for possible criminal offenses related to the irregular, improper and/or unlawful disbursement/utilization of all funds under the Pork Barrel System.

This Decision is immediately executory but prospective in effect.”


by Alma Buelva
November 19, 2013 (updated)

Source: Manila Bulletin

Read 6561 times Last modified on Thursday, 21 November 2013 15:01
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