SC modifies ruling against DAP, partly grants gov’t MR
MANILA, Philippines–The Supreme Court on Tuesday modified its July 2014 decision declaring parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.
Theodore Te, the high court spokesperson, said the Supreme Court en banc partially granted the motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Solicitor General as it removed from the list of unconstitutional acts the “funding of projects, activities and programs that were not covered by any appropriation in the General Appropriations Act.”
In its recent ruling, the high court said the following acts are unconstitutional:
1. The withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies, and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the General Appropriations Act.
2. The cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the Executive.
3. The use of unprogrammed funds despite the absence of a certification by the National Treasurer that the revenue collections exceeded the revenue targets for non-compliance with the conditions provided in the relevant General Appropriations Act.
The high court explained that when the President suspends or stops expenditure of funds, savings are not automatically generated until it is established that such funds are free from any obligations and the work or purpose for which the fund has been appropriated is completed, discontinued or abandoned.
“Thus, the withdrawal and transfer of unobligated allotments remains unconstitutional. But then, whether the withdrawn allotments have actually been reissued to their programs or projects is a factual matter determined by the proper tribunal,” the high court said.
At the same time, the high court added that there is no constitutional requirement that the subject of augmentation should be the expense category or allotment class.
“Accordingly, so long as there is an item in the GAA for which Congress had set aside a specified amount of public funds, savings may be transferred thereto for augmentation purposes,” the high court spokesperson said.
At the same time, the high court removed “proponents and implementors” on those that may possibly be held liable for unconstitutional acts related to DAP.
“The proper tribunals can make ‘concrete findings’ of good faith in their favor only after a full hearing of all the parties in any given case, and such a hearing can begin to proceed only after according all the presumptions, particulars that of good faith, by initially requiring the complainants, plaintiffs or accusers to first establish their complaints or charges before the respondent authors, proponents and implementors of the DAP,” Te said.
“The want of good faith is thus better determined by tribunals other than this Court, which is not a trier of facts,” Te added.
The high court added that only the authors can be held liable, unless a proper tribunal found that they acted in good faith. It now excludes from liability the proponents and implementors of the DAP prior to the ruling.
Last year, the high court struck down National Budget Circular No. 541 and other related issuances related to the DAP issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The circular allows withdrawn allotments to be used to augment existing programs and projects of any agency. It also allows withdrawn allotments to fund priority programs and projects not considered in the 2012 budget but are expected to be implemented during the current year.
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