No ‘resbak’ in bill to amend judiciary’s discretionary fund—Fariñas
MANILA, Philippines—“This is not ‘resbak’ (revenge).”
So said Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas of moves in the House of Representatives to revisit the Marcos-era law creating the Supreme Court’s Judiciary Development Fund (JDF), which had been described as the high tribunal’s version of the pork barrel.
He said his bill to amend Presidential Decree 1949 was “only pursuant” to the Supreme Court’s own decisions striking down the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the executive on July 1, and the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of the legislature last year.
Fariñas’ bill is one of two proposed measures in the House to revisit the 30-year-old law, which authorizes the Supreme Court to generate its own earnings and to augment its budgetary requirements for personnel benefits.
Under his proposal, PD 1949 shall be amended to provide for the remittance of all fees and collections in the judiciary to the national treasury. “The theory of democracy is any taxation without representation is tyranny,” Fariñas told a forum.
But because of PD 1949, the Supreme Court has been authorized “to impose fees, collect, appropriate, and spend.” “That’s too much. It’s a clear violation of the separation of powers,” he said.
Under the same principle of separation of powers, which the Supreme Court invoked in its decisions on the DAP and the PDAF, it must now follow its own rule, Fariñas said.
“The SC should not be the ones keeping its collection because that’s a clear circumvention of the constitutional precept that no money should be taken out of treasury without appropriation,” he said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said he agreed in principle that all discretionary funds should be studied.
But he stressed that this issue should not be used by President Aquino and his allies against the Supreme Court in trying to secure a reversal of the high court’s ruling on the DAP, parts of which had been declared unconstitutional.
“The people would not want this to be used to divert the issue,” he told the same forum.
ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said he also agreed that “all funds of government should have accountability.”
“But if we’re going to question the JDF, let’s question all other discretionary funds, including the President’s Social Fund,” he said.
On Monday night, Mr. Aquino criticized the decision of the Supreme Court ruling certain acts and practices under the DAP, a stimulus program introduced in 2011, to be unconstitutional, and expressed his intention to file a motion for reconsideration.
“My message to the Supreme Court: We don’t want to get to a point where two coequal branches of government would clash and where a third branch would have to mediate,” he said toward the end of his 23-minute speech on national television.
Without elaborating, Mr. Aquino also alluded to something the high tribunal “did in the past, which you tried to do again, and there are those saying it is worse.”
This has been widely interpreted to be in reference to the P1.77 billion JDF.
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