SC asked to remove lump-sum allocations in 2015 budget

By , on December 5, 2014

The Supreme Court of the Philippines building in Manila, Philippines. Photo by Mike Gonzalez / Wikimedia Commons.
The Supreme Court of the Philippines building in Manila, Philippines. Photo by Mike Gonzalez / Wikimedia Commons.

MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) was urged yesterday to prevent the legislative and the executive department from allocating lump-sum appropriations in the proposed budget for 2015.

Led by former Manila City councilor Greco Belgica, a group filed a petition in the high court reiterating its claim to declare four items in the 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA) as unconstitutional.

The four items include Unprogrammed Fund, E-Government Fund, Contingent Fund, and Local Government Support Fund, according to Belgica.

He also said that the items were one and the same with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), previously declared unconstitutional by the SC.

“When the Honorable Court struck down the pork barrel system unconstitutional, it was made clear that lump-sum discretionary funds are anathema to the Constitution because it violates among others the non-delegation clause and the essence and purpose of separation of power principle in the Constitution and the power of line item veto by the President,” he said.

The P2.265-trillion budget includes a total of P143.78 billion in lump-sum allocations for 2014.

This is also not the first time that the constitutionality of the budget was questioned before the SC.

The group of former Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr. also filed a petition challenging it before the high court.

Syjuco said in the petition that the allocation of lump-sum amounts in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) can also be considered as similar to the pork barrel funds.

Syjuco is then pushing for the SC to declare the unconstitutionality of the NEP which intentionally is the basis of the lawmakers in passing the GAA for 2015.

He added that the NEP and the 2015 GAA are both unconstitutional because of the redefinition of the term “savings.”

The redefinition was in order to counter the SC’s decision declaring certain acts and practices under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional.

Defined as surplus in the budget after the completion of payment of a particular item in the general appropriations law, the definition of savings, according to Syjuco was expanded “whimsically and arbitrarily discontinue, stop or fail to begin the implementation of an approved PAP (program, activity or project) even in the early parts of the fiscal year to forcibly turn the appropriations for such into savings.”

“Redefining ‘savings’ to clone this present administrations favorite but unconstitutional DAP, is de facto legalizing corruption. We should stop this from happening now, by all means possible. And, recourse to the honorable Supreme Court is now the only effective deterrent that is left available,” Syjuco said.