SC defers ruling anew on government’s DAP petition
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - November 19, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday deferred ruling anew on an appeal filed by the government questioning its declaration of parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.

In July, SC justices did not rule on the motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Solicitor General, which represents Malacañang, and instead decided to reset deliberations on the case.

“There was no action on that case,” an insider told The STAR.

Only two magistrates – Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin – were not present during yesterday’s session.

In its 52-page motion for reconsideration, the executive department insisted that DAP – the economic stimulus program designed to accelerate public spending – did not violate the Constitution.

The Palace urged the high court to consider institutional competence and value of bureaucratic practices in understanding the constitutional role of the executive branch in managing the economy, the authority of Congress to define savings, the shared role of the political departments in preparing the budget and the limited role of the SC on these matters.

The government dismissed the notion that the budget department engaged in a policy of accumulating savings so that President Aquino may have funds for augmentation.

The solicitor general reiterated its stand that withdrawn obligated allotments and unreleased appropriations under the DAP are savings and not in violation of the General Appropriations Act.

In the same appeal, the Palace turned the tables on the SC by citing the supposed cross-border transfer of funds committed by the high court in 2012.

It cited a July 17, 2012 SC resolution, which allowed allocation from existing savings of the court worth P2.38 billion for the construction of the Manila City Hall of Justice, Cebu Court of Appeals and Cagayan de Oro Court of Appeals.

It noted that the high tribunal earmarked P1.865 billion from its savings to augment the P100-million budget for the Manila Hall of Justice, an item in the 2012 budget of the Department of Justice-Office of the Secretary.

However, the Palace noted that when petitions were filed against the DAP, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, in a letter on Dec. 23 last year, informed the Department of Budget and Management that the SC was withdrawing its request to realign the P100 million intended for the Manila Hall of Justice to the budget of the judiciary.

With these grounds, the government asked the SC to reverse its assailed decision and dismiss the consolidated petitions against the DAP.

The petitions were filed by former Manila councilor Greco Belgica, former Iloilo congressman Augusto Syjuco, lawyers Jose Malvar Villegas Jr. and Manuelito Luna, Philippine Constitution Association, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.

ASSOCIATE JUSTICES DIOSDADO PERALTA AND LUCAS BERSAMIN AUGUSTO SYJUCO CEBU COURT OF APPEALS AND CAGAYAN CHIEF JUSTICE MARIA LOURDES SERENO DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE-OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY DISBURSEMENT ACCELERATION PROGRAM GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT GRECO BELGICA MANILA HALL OF JUSTICE
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