High court to hear oral arguments on DAP | Inquirer News

High court to hear oral arguments on DAP

/ 05:34 AM November 18, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Tuesday on the administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), or what critics call “the President’s pork barrel.”

The DAP is being tackled a month before the high court will rule on the legality or constitutionality of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of legislators.

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Lawyers for the government and the nine petitioners against the DAP are expected to defend their positions on the controversial fund. Representatives of the Department of Budget and Management and the Commission on Audit were also told to appear.

The budget department has described the DAP as a stimulus package created by the Aquino administration to fast-track public spending and stimulate growth.

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On the other hand, opposition lawmakers said DAP funds were used by the administration to bribe senators into ousting Chief Justice Renato Corona last year. They also noted that the DAP was not a program that was approved in the legislated national budget.

A four-page notice issued by Clerk of Court Enriqueta Vidal on Thursday set the initial issues the lawyers should discuss before the high court on Tuesday. It listed: procedural issues regarding the questioning of the DAP; the timing or readiness of the issue for judicial determination; and the standing of the petitioners.

The Supreme Court also asked the lawyers to get into substantive issues:

• Whether or not the DAP violated Section 29, Article VI of the Constitution which provides that “no money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law”;

• Whether or not the DAP and other related executive issuances violated Section 25(5), Article VI of the Constitution insofar as it treats the unreleased appropriations and unobligated allotments withdrawn from government agencies as savings”

• Whether or not the DAP violates the Equal Protection Clause, the system of checks and balances and the principle of public accountability enshrined in the Constitution considering that it authorizes the release of funds upon the request of legislators;

• Whether or not factual and legal justification exists to issue a temporary restraining order to restrain the implementation of the DAP and all other related executive issuances.

The high court has also promised to make a ruling on the legality on the use of the PDAF and the Malampaya Funds this month so that the executive and legislative branches of the government would be better guided when they pass the national budget for next year.—Christine O. Avendaño

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TAGS: Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), Philippines, Pork barrel, Supreme Court
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