SC orders answers on unconstitutional provisions in 2015 GAA, SPF
The Supreme Court has ordered the Budget Department, Senate, and Congress to answer the bid by former National Treasurer Leonor Briones and several other leaders of cause-oriented groups, which seeks to nullify for being unconstitutional several provisions in the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and the Special Purpose Fund (SPF).
Respondents Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Senate President Franklin Drilon, and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte were given 10 days upon receipt of the resolution to submit their comment.
In their petition, Briones and the other anti-corruption and cause-oriented groups urged the high court to stop the implementation of Sections 70 and 73 of the 2015 GAA including the National Budget Circular 559.
Section 70 defines savings as portions or balances of any unreleased appropriations in the GAA which have not been obligated.
Section 73 contains rules on the realignment of allotment and the re-prioritization of items of appropriations.
Aside from Section 70 and 73, the petitioners said among the special provisions of the Special Purpose Fund that they want the high court to stop the respondents from implementing are the E-Government Fund (for strategic information and communication technology projects), the International Commitment Fund, the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Funds, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund, the Pension and Gratuity Fund and the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Program Fund.
Petitioners said those provisions violated the high court’s ruling that declared unconstitutional the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
“Petitioners call on this Honorable Court to prevent the Legislative and the Executive from making the Constitution or the ruling in the Belgica or Araullo illusory. Whether it is through deceptive or creative schemes, the Executive and the Legislative branches should be prevented from doing indirectly what they cannot legally do directly,” the petition said.
Petitioners are apprehensive that the funds would be used for next year’s election.
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