The Supreme Court in 1994 ruled that the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF), forerunner of the Priority Development Assistance Fund, was a valid and constitutional exercise of Congress’ “power of the purse.”
In its decision, the high court said: “The Constitution is a framework of a workable government and its interpretation must take into account the complexities, realities and politics attendant to the operation of the political branches of government.”
The high tribunal said the CDF attempted to make equal the unequal, noting that before the 1991 General Appropriations Act, there was uneven allocation of appropriations for the constituents of the members of Congress.
The Supreme Court added that lawmakers also had “to reckon with an unsympathetic President, who could exercise his veto power to cancel from the appropriation bill a pet project of a Representative or Senator.”
In 1996, the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) sought a reexamination of the 1994 Supreme Court decision in Philconsa v. Enriquez upholding the constitutionality of the CDF and the power to realign operating expense allocations of members of Congress.
Another group, the Lawyers Against Monopoly and Poverty, also questioned in 1996 the ruling of the Supreme Court.
“We hold, however, that the proposing, identifying and selecting of projects under the CDF (Countrywide Development Funds) or CIA (Congressional Initiative Allocation) can only be legislative in character, when done by Congress sitting as a collegial body, but never performed through individual members. Legislative power is vested in Congress, not in its individual members,” the group said. Inquirer Research
Sources: Inquirer Archives, www.lawphil.net