Still no SC ruling on Palace plea for DAP
The Supreme Court still has to rule on Malacañang’s appeal to its July 1 decision striking down President Benigno Aquino III’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional.
Court spokesperson Theodore Te said on Tuesday that the magistrates, sitting en banc, did not issue a ruling, contrary to an earlier news report that the court was expected to uphold its decision nullifying President Aquino’s purported economic stimulus program.
The high tribunal has one full-court session left this year—on Dec. 9—to decide with finality on the constitutionality of the DAP, Malacañang’s source of pork barrel funding. The court earlier likewise declared unconstitutional the graft-tainted congressional pork—known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Tension between Malacañang and the judiciary heightened after the court ruling on the DAP, with President Aquino at one point threatening to amend the Constitution to keep the high court’s powers in check.
Last week, the government cited the nullification of the DAP among factors that had contributed to its underspending, which in turn led to the slowdown in third-quarter economic growth to 5.3 percent.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), among the anti-DAP petitioners, called on the high court to decide before the year ends, saying “a final ruling junking DAP would be a great Christmas gift for the people.”
“We are, of course, disappointed that the Supreme Court has failed to come up with a final ruling on DAP, despite media reports that the issue was on the en banc agenda,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr.
The group and other organizations opposed to the DAP staged a rally outside the Supreme Court despite the rain yesterday to await the high court ruling.
“The last en banc of the year is on Dec. 9. We will go back to the Supreme Court,” Reyes said.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court nullified the DAP on July 1, citing its violations of constitutional provisions that bar the cross-border transfer of savings to agencies outside the executive branch and to projects outside the approved national budget.
The high court also found that Mr. Aquino had usurped Congress’ exclusive power of the purse in implementing the DAP, and that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad may have knowingly circumvented the country’s appropriations rules in crafting and enforcing the program, for which Malacañang officials could be held criminally accountable.
Malacañang appealed the ruling on July 18, contending good faith in enforcing the DAP.
In its motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Solicitor General, Malacañang said that Mr. Aquino and other government officials “deserve to be afforded the traditional constitutional presumptions that apply to most other forms of public actions, especially the presumption of good faith.”
It also reminded the high court that the judiciary had itself undertaken cross-border fund transfers for infrastructure projects, a claim that the high court denied.