Supreme Court upholds government cash transfer programBy Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Supreme Court has sustained the constitutionality of the Aquino administration’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, saying the government did not encroach on the autonomy of local governments when it implemented the antipoverty program.
In a 12-page en banc decision dated July 17, the high court dismissed the petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by former Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. and barangay (village) officials Nelso Alcantara and Sergio Tadeo in March last year, saying the petitioners “failed to discharge the burden of proving the invalidity of the provisions under the GAA (General Appropriations Act)” that allocated P21 billion for the CCT program.
The decision was penned by Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe.
Pimentel and the two barangay officials had questioned the CCT’s implementation through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and not through the local government units (LGUs), which are responsible for delivering social welfare and other services to the people under the Local Government Code of 1991.
Pimentel, principal author of the Local Government Code, and the barangay officials contended that the allocation of the P21 billion to the DSWD resulted in the “recentralization of basic government functions” that had been devolved from the national government to the LGUs.
But the high court said that while the Local Government Code provides for the duties and functions of LGUs, pertaining to their job of delivering basic services and facilities, the same law also provides a “categorical exception in cases involving national funded projects, facilities, programs and services.”
It cited a provision in the law that states that “other facilities, programs and services funded by the national government under the GAA, other special laws, pertinent executive orders and those wholly or partially funded from foreign sources, are not covered under this section…”
“The essence of this express reservation of power by the national government is that, unless an LGU is particularly designated as the implementing agency, it has no power over a program for which funding has been provided by the national government under the annual general appropriations act, even if the program involves the delivery of basic services within the jurisdiction of the LGU.”
Among the cases cited by the high court in maintaining its position include Ganzon v. Court of Appeals, where it held that “the concept of local autonomy does not imply the conversion of local government units into ministates.”
It said it cannot be implied that the Local Government Code provides for the “complete relinquishment of central government powers on the matter of providing basic facilities and services.”