Aquino accusation vs SC misplaced, insiders say he is misguided by his advisers
MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III is misguided when he accused the Supreme Court (SC) of committing acts that it has declared illegal.
In his speech Wednesday, Aquino said the Supreme Court is also guilty of cross-border transfer of funds when it allotted P1.865 billion of its savings for the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice. The fund was supposed to come from the Executive through the Department of Justice.
Cross-border transfer of fund was among the acts that the high court declared as illegal when it ruled that parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) are unconstitutional.
High court insiders said there is no cross-border transfer because the fund did not come from the general appropriations but from the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) collected from courts nationwide from docket and other court fees.
“The Supreme Court savings can be used by the Supreme Court for its projects,” the insider explained.
The JDF was created by virtue of Presidential Decree 1949 in order to preserve and enhance the independence of the judiciary at all times and safeguard the integrity of its members,” being the lone apolitical branch of government Under PD 1949, 80-percent of the JDF shall be used to augment the allowances of justices, judges, and court personnel; the remaining 20-percent for office equipment and facilities.
The COA is mandated to do a quarterly audit of the fund — its “receipts, revenues, uses, disbursements and expenditures.”
The insider explained that the budget for the construction of the halls of justices is incorporated in the budget of the Department of Justice (DOJ) so that the high court’s share under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) will not be bloated.
“Under the law, you cannot reduce the Supreme Court’s budget than the previous year. So, if the construction of halls of justices is incorporated in the SC’s budget, its share of the GAA will significantly increase. When the construction has been completed, they can no longer reduce the SC’s budget for the following year,” the insider said.
Another insider said in a text message that the Supreme Court never transferred its P1.8 billion savings to augment the P100 million budget of the DOJ for the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice.
“It never happened. The Supreme Court resolution never mentioned any transfer of its savings to DOJ. Not a single centavo. SC itself is constructing the Manila Hall of Justice. The P1.8 billion stayed entirely with SC (up to now),” the text message passed on to INQUIRER.net said.
The other insider confirmed that the amount is still intact in the high court’s Land bank account.
The insider said the P1.8 billion was realigned end of 2013 to the high court’s capital outlay.
“The detailed engineering and architectural design for the Manila Hall of Justice is about to be [bid] out by the SC itself….No cross-border transfer of appropriations whatsoever. When SC had groundbreaking of Manila Hall of Justice, DOJ was not even invited. Title to the land is in the name of the SC,” the insider further said.
“The construction of the Manila Hall of Justice is under the control and supervision of the Supreme Court, just like the construction of the model halls of justice in Cebu and Pampanga. The Manila Hall of Justice (with 120 courts) will also be a model hall of justice. President Aquino is misguided by his advisers,” the insider added.
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