MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) ordered the Malacañang Palace and Congress to file their answers to the Philippine Constitution Association’s (Philconsa) allegations on the inclusion of lump sum and discretionary funds in this year’s national budget.
Philconsa earlier claimed that the lump sum and discretionary fun insertions in the national budget were unconstitutional. They then asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on several provisions in the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and special purpose funds (SPS).
“Realignment of allotment classes and reprioritization of items of appropriations are species and varieties of transfer and augmentation prohibited under Section 25 (5), Article IV of the Constitution,” Philconsa said.
The petitioners also sought for the Commission on Audit (COA) to issue notices of disallowances on all current and pending disbursements and releases from the questioned GAA provisions; and the issuance of show cause order against the Congress and Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad for ‘flagrant disobedience, resistance and disregard of the decisions of the Supreme Court in the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) and DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) cases.’
Scrutinizing the 2015 national budget, Philconsa saw a ‘scandalous and unconscionable freight’ of lump sums and discretionary funds ‘cleverly embedded’ in nine departments and two agencies of the executive department which were ‘highly vulnerable to the whirligig of transactional, rent-seeking and patronage politics.’ They then challenged several provisions in the GAA and SPS.
Upon receiving the 30-page petition, the SC justices required Abad, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., and other high-ranking officials from the COA to comment on the allegations within 10 days from receipt of notice.