CASE 2013-0027: SC DECISION ON THE PDAF CASE: GRECO ANTONIOUS BEDA B. BELGICA, JOSE M. VILLEGAS, JR., JOSE L. GONZALEZ, REUBEN M. ABANTE, AND QUINTIN PAREDES SAN DIEGO, PETITIONERS, -VERSUS- HONORABLE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., SECRETARY OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT FLORENCIO B. ABAD, NATIONAL TREASURER ROSALIA V. DE LEON, SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, REPRESENTED BY FRANKLIN M. DRILON M HIS CAPACITY AS SENATE PRESIDENT, AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REPRESENTED BY FELICIANO S. BELMONTE, JR. IN HIS CAPACITY AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, RESPONDENTS.; SOCIAL JUSTICE SOCIETY SJS) PRESIDENT SAMSON S. ALCANTARA, PETITIONER, -VERSUS- HONORABLE FRANKLIN M. DRILON, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SENATE PRESIDENT, AND HONORABLE FELICIANO S. BELMONTE, JR., M HIS CAPACITY AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, RESPONDENTS.; PEDRITO M. NEPOMUCENO, FORMER MAYOR-BOAC, MARINDUQUE, FORMER PROVINCIAL BOARD MEMBER -PROVINCE OF MARINDUQUE, PETITIONER, -VERSUS- PRESIDENT BENIGNO SIMEON C. AQUINO ILI AND SECRETARY FLORENCIO “BUTCH” ABAD, DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT, RESPONDENTS. (G.R. NO. G.R. NO. 208566; G.R. NO. 208493 AND G.R. NO. 209251, 19 NOVEMBER 2013, PERLAS-BERNABE, J.) SUBJECT: LEGALITY OF THE PORK BARREL SYSTEM) (BRIEF TITLE: BELGICA ET AL VS. HON. EXEC. SECRETARY).
“WHEREFORE, the petitions are PARTLY GRANTED. In view of the constitutional violations discussed in this Decision, the Court hereby declares as UNCONSTITUTIONAL: (a) the entire 2013 PDAF Article; (b) all legal provisions of past and present Congressional Pork Barrel Laws, such as the previous PDAF and CDF Articles and the various Congressional Insertions, which authorize/d legislators – whether individually or collectively organized into committees – to intervene, assume or participate in any of the various post-enactment stages of the budget execution, such as but not limited to the areas of project identification, modification and revision of project identification, fund release and/or fund realignment, unrelated to the power of congressional oversight; (c) all legal provisions of past and present Congressional Pork Barrel Laws, such as the previous PDAF and CDF Articles and the various Congressional Insertions, whichconfer/red personal, lump-sum allocations to legislators from which they are able to fund specific projects which they themselves determine; (d) all informal practices of similar import and effect, which the Court similarly deems to be acts of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; and (e) the phrases (1) ―and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President‖ under Section 8 of Presidential Decree No. 910 and (2) ―to finance the priority infrastructure development projects‖ under Section 12 of Presidential Decree No. 1869, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1993, for both failing the sufficient standard test in violation of the principle of non-delegability of legislative power.
Accordingly, the Court‘s temporary injunction dated September 10, 2013 is hereby declared to be PERMANENT. Thus, the disbursement/release of the remaining PDAF funds allocated for the year 2013, as well as for all previous years, and the funds sourced from (1) the Malampaya Funds under the phrase ―and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President‖ pursuant to Section 8 of Presidential Decree No. 910, and (2) the Presidential Social Fund under the phrase ―to finance the priority infrastructure development projects‖ pursuant to Section 12 of Presidential Decree No. 1869, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1993, which are, at the time this Decision is promulgated, not covered by Notice of Cash Allocations (NCAs) but only by Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs), whether obligated or not, are hereby ENJOINED. The remaining PDAF funds covered by this permanent injunction shall not be disbursed/released but instead reverted to the unappropriated surplus of the general fund, while the funds under the Malampaya Funds and the Presidential Social Fund shall remain therein to be utilized for their respective special purposes not otherwise declared as unconstitutional.
On the other hand, due to improper recourse and lack of proper substantiation, the Court hereby DENIES petitioners‘ prayer seeking that the Executive Secretary and/or the Department of Budget and Management be ordered to provide the public and the Commission on Audit complete lists/schedules or detailed reports related to the availments and utilization of the funds subject of these cases. Petitioners‘ access to official documents already available and of public record which are related to these funds must, however, not be prohibited but merely subjected to the custodian‘s reasonable regulations or any valid statutory prohibition on the same. This denial is without prejudice to a proper mandamus case which they or the Commission on Audit may choose to pursue through a separate petition.
The Court also DENIES petitioners’ prayer to order the inclusion of the funds subject of these cases in the budgetary deliberations of Congress as the same is a matter left to the prerogative of the political branches of government.
Finally, the Court hereby DIRECTS all prosecutorial organs of the government to, within the bounds of reasonable dispatch, investigate and accordingly prosecute all government officials and/or private individuals for possible criminal offenses related to the irregular, improper and/or unlawful disbursement/utilization of all funds under the Pork Barrel System.
This Decision is immediately executory but prospective in effect.
WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF PORK BARREL?
PORK BARREL SYSTEM IS THE COLLECTIVE BODY OF RULES AND PRACTICES THAT GOVERN THE MANNER BY WHICH LUMP-SUM, DISCRETIONARY FUNDS, PRIMARILY INTENDED FOR LOCAL PROJECTS, ARE UTILIZED THROUGH THE RESPECTIVE PARTICIPATIONS OF THE LEGISLATIVE AND EXECUTIVE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING ITS MEMBERS.
WHAT ARE THE KINDS OF DISCRETIONARY FUNDS INVOLVED IN PORK BARREL SYSTEM?
THERE ARE TWO KINDS:
FIRST, THERE IS THE CONGRESSIONAL PORK BARREL WHICH IS A KIND OF LUMP-SUM, DISCRETIONARY FUND WHEREIN LEGISLATORS, EITHER INDIVIDUALLY OR COLLECTIVELY ORGANIZED INTO COMMITTEES, ARE ABLE TO EFFECTIVELY CONTROL CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE FUND’S UTILIZATION THROUGH VARIOUS POST-ENACTMENT MEASURES AND/OR PRACTICES.
SECOND, THERE IS THE PRESIDENTIAL PORK BARREL WHICH IS A KIND OF LUMP-SUM, DISCRETIONARY FUND WHICH ALLOWS THE PRESIDENT TO DETERMINE THE MANNER OF ITS UTILIZATION.
WHAT IS THE PRINCIPLE OF SEPARATION OF POWERS?
THE PRINCIPLE OF SEPARATION OF POWERS REFERS TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL DEMARCATION OF THE THREE FUNDAMENTAL POWERS OF GOVERNMENT.
TO THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT, THROUGH CONGRESS, BELONGS THE POWER TO MAKE LAWS; TO THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT, THROUGH THE PRESIDENT, BELONGS THE POWER TO ENFORCE LAWS; AND TO THE JUDICIAL BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT, THROUGH THE COURT, BELONGS THE POWER TO INTERPRET LAWS.
BECAUSE THE THREE GREAT POWERS HAVE BEEN, BY CONSTITUTIONAL DESIGN, ORDAINED IN THIS RESPECT, ―[E]ACH DEPARTMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT HAS EXCLUSIVE COGNIZANCE OF MATTERS WITHIN ITS JURISDICTION, AND IS SUPREME WITHIN ITS OWN SPHERE.
THUS, ―THE LEGISLATURE HAS NO AUTHORITY TO EXECUTE OR CONSTRUE THE LAW, THE EXECUTIVE HAS NO AUTHORITY TO MAKE OR CONSTRUE THE LAW, AND THE JUDICIARY HAS NO POWER TO MAKE OR EXECUTE THE LAW.
AFTER APPROVAL OF THE GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT, WHAT HAPPENS TO THE LAW-MAKING ROLE OF CONGRESS?
CONGRESS‘ LAW-MAKING ROLE NECESSARILY COMES TO AN END AND FROM THERE THE EXECUTIVE‘S ROLE OF IMPLEMENTING THE NATIONAL BUDGET BEGINS.
SO AS NOT TO BLUR THE CONSTITUTIONAL BOUNDARIES BETWEEN THEM, CONGRESS MUST NOT CONCERN ITSELF WITH DETAILS FOR IMPLEMENTATION BY THE EXECUTIVE.
BUT CAN CONGRESS STILL EXERCISE OVERSIGHT FUNCTION EVEN AFTER THE LAW WAS PASSED?
YES. BUT CONGRESS‘ ROLE MUST BE CONFINED TO MERE OVERSIGHT. ANY POSTENACTMENT-MEASURE ALLOWING LEGISLATOR PARTICIPATION BEYOND OVERSIGHT IS BEREFT OF ANY CONSTITUTIONAL BASIS AND HENCE, TANTAMOUNT TO IMPERMISSIBLE INTERFERENCE AND/OR ASSUMPTION OF EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS.
WHAT IS THE SCOPE OF ITS OVERSIGHT FUNCTION?
CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT MUST BE CONFINED TO THE FOLLOWING:
(1) SCRUTINY BASED PRIMARILY ON CONGRESS‘ POWER OF APPROPRIATION AND THE BUDGET HEARINGS CONDUCTED IN CONNECTION WITH IT, ITS POWER TO ASK HEADS OF DEPARTMENTS TO APPEAR BEFORE AND BE HEARD BY EITHER OF ITS HOUSES ON ANY MATTER PERTAINING TO THEIR DEPARTMENTS AND ITS POWER OF CONFIRMATION; AND
(2) INVESTIGATION AND MONITORING OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF LAWS PURSUANT TO THE POWER OF CONGRESS TO CONDUCT INQUIRIES IN AID OF LEGISLATION.
ANY ACTION OR STEP BEYOND THAT WILL UNDERMINE THE SEPARATION OF POWERS GUARANTEED BY THE CONSTITUTION.
THE 2013 PDAF GIVES AUTHORITY TO LEGISLATORS TO IMPLEMENT CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE BUDGET. IS IT LEGAL?
IT IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL BECAUSE IT IS VIOLATIVE OF THE SEPARATION OF POWERS PRINCIPLE.
“Thus, for all the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby declares the 2013 PDAF Article as well as all other provisions of law which similarly allow legislators to wield any form of post-enactment authority in the implementation or enforcement of the budget, unrelated to congressional oversight, as violative of the separation of powers principle and thus unconstitutional.”
HOW ABOUT THE INFORMAL PRACTICES OF PARTICIPATING IN THE EXECUTION OF THE BUDGET?
THEY MUST BE DEEMED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AND ACCORDED THE SAME UNCONSTITUTIONAL TREATMENT.
“Corollary thereto, informal practices, through which legislators have effectively intruded into the proper phases of budget execution, must be deemed as acts of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction and, hence, accorded the same unconstitutional treatment.
BECAUSE THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT WOULD BE DEPRIVED OF WHAT THE CONSTITUTION HAS VESTED AS ITS OWN.
WHO EXERCISES LEGISLATIVE POWER?
THAT POWER SHALL BE VESTED IN THE CONGRESS OF THE PHILIPPINES WHICH SHALL CONSIST OF A SENATE AND A HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, EXCEPT TO THE EXTENT RESERVED TO THE PEOPLE BY THE PROVISION ON INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM.
BASED ON THIS PROVISION, IT IS CLEAR THAT ONLY CONGRESS, ACTING AS A BICAMERAL BODY, AND THE PEOPLE, THROUGH THE PROCESS OF INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM, MAY CONSTITUTIONALLY WIELD LEGISLATIVE POWER AND NO OTHER.
THIS PREMISE EMBODIES THE PRINCIPLE OF NON-DELEGABILITY OF LEGISLATIVE POWER.
IS THERE ANY EXCEPTION TO THE NON-DELEGABILITY OF LEGISLATIVE POWER?
YES. THEY ARE:
(A) DELEGATED LEGISLATIVE POWER TO LOCAL GOVERNMENTS WHICH, BY IMMEMORIAL PRACTICE, ARE ALLOWED TO LEGISLATE ON PURELY LOCAL MATTERS; AND
(B) CONSTITUTIONALLY-GRAFTED EXCEPTIONS SUCH AS THE AUTHORITY OF THE PRESIDENT TO, BY LAW, EXERCISE POWERS NECESSARY AND PROPER TO CARRY OUT A DECLARED NATIONAL POLICY IN TIMES OF WAR OR OTHER NATIONAL EMERGENCY, OR FIX WITHIN SPECIFIED LIMITS, AND SUBJECT TO SUCH LIMITATIONS AND RESTRICTIONS AS CONGRESS MAY IMPOSE, TARIFF RATES, IMPORT AND EXPORT QUOTAS, TONNAGE AND WHARFAGE DUES, AND OTHER DUTIES OR IMPOSTS WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM OF THE GOVERNMENT.
DOES THE 2013 PDAF VIOLATE THE PRINCIPLE OF NON-DELEGABILITY OF LEGISLATIVE POWER?
YES. BECAUSE THE 2013 PDAF ARTICLE CONFERS POST-ENACTMENT IDENTIFICATION AUTHORITY TO INDIVIDUAL LEGISLATORS.
SAID LEGISLATORS ARE EFFECTIVELY ALLOWED TO INDIVIDUALLY EXERCISE THE POWER OF APPROPRIATION, WHICH – AS SETTLED IN PHILCONSA – IS LODGED IN CONGRESS.
“That the power to appropriate must be exercised only through legislation is clear from Section 29(1), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution which states that: ―No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an
appropriation made by law.‖ To understand what constitutes an act of appropriation, the Court, in Bengzon v. Secretary of Justice and Insular Auditor (Bengzon), held that the power of appropriation involves (a) the setting apart by law of a certain sum from the public revenue for (b) a specified purpose. Essentially, under the 2013 PDAF Article, individual legislators are given a personal lump-sum fund from which they are able to dictate (a) how much from such fund would go to (b) a specific project or beneficiary that they themselves also determine. As these two (2) acts comprise the exercise of the power of appropriation as described in Bengzon, and given that the 2013 PDAF Article authorizes individual legislators to perform the same, undoubtedly, said legislators have been conferred the power to legislate which the Constitution does not, however, allow.”
SINCE IT VIOLATES THE PRINCIPLE OF NON-DELEGABILITY OF LEGISLATIVE POWER HOW IS THE LEGALITY OF THE 2013 PDAF CHARACTERIZED?
THE 2013 PDAF AND ALL OTHER FORMS OF CONGRESSIONAL PORK BARREL WHICH CONTAIN SIMILAR LEGISLATIVE IDENTIFICATION FEATURE IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
“Thus, keeping with the principle of non-delegability of legislative power, the Court hereby declares the 2013 PDAF Article, as well as all other forms of Congressional Pork Barrel which contain the similar legislative identification feature as herein discussed, as unconstitutional.”
ARE THE THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT ABSOLUTELY INDEPENDENT OF EACH OTHER?
THE CONSTITUTION HAS ALSO PROVIDED FOR AN ELABORATE SYSTEM OF CHECKS AND BALANCES TO SECURE COORDINATION IN THE WORKINGS OF THE VARIOUS DEPARTMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT.
GIVE AN EXAMPLE OF A CONSTITUTIONAL CHECK AND BALANCE.
THE PRESIDENT’S POWER TO VETO AN ITEM WRITTEN INTO AN APPROPRIATION, REVENUE OR TARIFF BILL SUBMITTED TO HIM BY CONGRESS FOR APPROVAL THROUGH A PROCESS KNOWN AS ―BILL PRESENTMENT.
WHAT IS THE BASIS FOR THE PRESIDENT’S VETO POWER?
IT IS FOUND IN SECTION 27(2), ARTICLE VI OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION WHICH READS AS FOLLOWS:
“Sec. 27. x x x.
x x x x
(2) The President shall have the power to veto any particular item or items in an appropriation, revenue, or tariff bill, but the veto shall not affect the item or items to which he does not object.”
BUT BY EXERCISING HIS VETO POWER IS THE PRESIDENT ALSO PERFORMING LAW-MAKING FUNCTION?
IT IS A CHECK ON THE LEGISLATURE.
“The former Organic Act and the present Constitution of the Philippines make the Chief Executive an integral part of the law-making power. His disapproval of a bill, commonly known as a veto, is essentially a legislative act. The questions presented to the mind of the Chief Executive are precisely the same as those the legislature must determine in passing a bill, except that his will be a broader point of view.
The Constitution is a limitation upon the power of the legislative department of the government, but in this respect it is a grant of power to the executive department. The Legislature has the affirmative power to enact laws; the Chief Executive has the negative power by the constitutional exercise of which he may defeat the will of the Legislature.”
HOW WILL THE PRESIDENT EXERCISE HIS VETO POWER FUNCTION?
HE MAY NOT BE CONFINED TO RULES OF STRICT CONSTRUCTION OR HAMPERED BY THE UNWISE INTERFERENCE OF THE JUDICIARY.
“The courts will indulge every intendment in favor of the constitutionality of a veto [in the same manner] as they will presume the constitutionality of an act as originally passed by the Legislature.”
WHAT IS THE JUSTIFICATION FOR THE PRESIDENT’S VETO-POWER?
THE JUSTIFICATION FOR THE PRESIDENT‘S ITEM-VETO POWER RESTS ON A VARIETY OF POLICY GOALS SUCH AS TO PREVENT LOG-ROLLING LEGISLATION, IMPOSE FISCAL RESTRICTIONS ON THE LEGISLATURE, AS WELL AS TO FORTIFY THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH‘S ROLE IN THE BUDGETARY PROCESS.”
“In Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, the US Supreme Court characterized the President‘s item-power as ―a salutary check upon the legislative body, calculated to guard the community against the effects of factions, precipitancy, or of any impulse unfriendly to the public good, which may happen to influence a majority of that body‖; phrased differently, it is meant to ―increase the chances in favor of the community against the passing of bad laws, through haste, inadvertence, or design.”
FOR THE PRESIDENT TO EXERCISE HIS ITEM-VETO POWER WHAT IS NECESSARY?
THERE MUST EXIST A PROPER “ITEM” WHICH MAY BE THE OBJECT OF THE VETO.
WHAT IS AN “ITEM” IN A BILL OR APPROPRIATION?
AN ITEM, AS DEFINED IN THE FIELD OF APPROPRIATIONS, PERTAINS TO ―THE PARTICULARS, THE DETAILS, THE DISTINCT AND SEVERABLE PARTS OF THE APPROPRIATION OR OF THE BILL.
“In the case of Bengzon v. Secretary of Justice of the Philippine Islands, the US Supreme Court characterized an item of appropriation as follows:
An item of an appropriation bill obviously means an item which, in itself, is a specific appropriation of money, not some general provision of law which happens to be put into an appropriation bill. (Emphases supplied)”
WHAT IS AN IMPORTANT CHARACTERISTIC OF AN APPROPRIATION BILL?
IT MUST BE A SPECIFIC APPROPRIATION OF MONEY AND NOT A GENERAL PROVISION PROVIDING FOR PARAMETERS OF APPROPRIATION?
WHY MUST IT BE A SPECIFIC APPROPRIATION OF MONEY?
TO ENSURE THAT THE PRESIDENT IS ABLE TO EXERCISE HIS POWER OF ITEM VETO.
“On this premise, it may be concluded that an appropriation bill, to ensure that the President may be able to exercise his power of item veto, must contain ―specific appropriations of money‖ and not only ―general
provisions‖ which provide for parameters of appropriation.”
ASIDE FROM BEING A SPECIFIC APPROPRIATION OF MONEY WHAT FURTHER CHARACTERIZES AN APPROPRIATION BILL?
IT MUST BE CHARACTERIZED BY SINGULAR CORRESPONDENCE.
THIS MEANS IT MUST BE AN ALLOCATION FOR A SPECIFIED SINGULAR AMOUNT FOR A SPECIFIED SINGULAR PURPOSE.
WHY MUST IT BE SO?
SO THE PRESIDENT WILL DISCERNABLY VETO THE SAME.
“Further, it is significant to point out that an item of appropriation must be an item characterized by singular correspondence – meaning an allocation of a specified singular amount for a specified singular purpose, otherwise known as a ―line-item. This treatment not only allows the item to be consistent with its definition as a ―specific appropriation of money‖ but also ensures that the President may discernibly veto the same.”
ARE THE CALAMITY FUND, CONTINGENT FUND AND THE INTELLIGENCE FUND CONSIDERED AS LINE-ITEM APPROPRIATIONS?
YES BECAUSE THEY STATE A SPECIFIED AMOUNT FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE.
MAY AN APPROPRIATION BE VALIDLY APPORTIONED INTO COMPONENT PERCENTAGES?
YES, BUT EACH PERCENTAGE OR VALUE MUST BE ALLOCATED FOR ITS OWN CORRESPONDING PURPOSE.
“Likewise, it must be observed that an appropriation may be validly apportioned into component percentages or values; however, it is crucial that each percentage or value must be allocated for its own corresponding purpose for such component to be considered as a proper line-item.”
MAY AN APPROPRIATIOMN HAVE SEVERAL RELATED PURPOSES?
YES PROVIDED THAT THESE PURPOSES ARE BY ACCOUNTING AND BUDGETING PURPOSES CAN BE CONSIDERED AS ONE PURPOSE.
ONE EXAMPLE IS THE MOOE (MAINTENANCE AND OTHER OPERATING EXPENSES).
“Moreover, as Justice Carpio correctly pointed out, a valid
appropriation may even have several related purposes that are by accounting and budgeting practice considered as one purpose, e.g., MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses), in which case the related purposes shall be deemed sufficiently specific for the exercise of the
President‘s item veto power.”
HOW ABOUT SPECIAL PURPOSE FUNDS AND DISCRETIONARY FUNDS, ARE THEY VALID APPROPRIATIONS?
YES, AS LONG AS THEY FOLLOW THE RULE ON SINGULAR CORRESPONDENCE AND SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF LAW AS STATED BELOW.
REGARDING SPECIAL PURPOSE FUNDS, SECTION 25(4), ARTICLE VI OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION REQUIRES THAT THE ―SPECIAL APPROPRIATIONS BILL SHALL:
- a. SPECIFY THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH IT IS INTENDED, AND;
- b. SHALL BE SUPPORTED BY FUNDS ACTUALLY AVAILABLE AS CERTIFIED BY THE NATIONAL TREASURER, OR TO BE RAISED BY A CORRESPONDING REVENUE PROPOSAL THEREIN.
REGARDING DISCRETIONARY FUNDS, SECTION 25(6), ARTICLE VI OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION REQUIRES THAT SAID FUNDS ―SHALL:
- A. BE DISBURSED ONLY FOR PUBLIC PURPOSES TO BE SUPPORTED BY APPROPRIATE VOUCHERS AND;
- B. SUBJECT TO SUCH GUIDELINES AS MAY BE PRESCRIBED BY LAW.
HOW ABOUT APPROPRIATIONS WHICH MERELY PROVIDE FOR A SINGULAR LUMP-SUM AMOUNT TO BE TAPPED AS A SOURCE OF FUNDING FOR MULTIPLE PURPOSES. ARE THESE IN ACCORD WITH THE CONSTITUTION?
NO, SINCE SUCH APPROPRIATION TYPE NECESSITATES THE FURTHER DETERMINATION OF BOTH THE ACTUAL AMOUNT TO BE EXPENDED AND THE ACTUAL PURPOSE OF THE APPROPRIATION.
THE PRESIDENT HAS NO PROPER LINE-ITEM TO VETO.
ALSO, THE IMPLEMENTING AGENCY WOULD STILL HAVE TO DETERMINE, BOTH THE ACTUAL AMOUNT TO BE EXPENDED AND THE ACTUAL PURPOSE OF THE APPROPRIATION.
“In contrast, what beckons constitutional infirmity are appropriations which merely provide for a singular lump-sum amount to be tapped as a source of funding for multiple purposes. Since such appropriation type necessitates the further determination of both the actual amount to be expended and the actual purpose of the appropriation which must still be chosen from the multiple purposes stated in the law, it cannot be said that the appropriation law already indicates a ―specific appropriation of money‖ and hence, without a proper line-item which the President may veto. As a practical result, the President would then be faced with the predicament of
either vetoing the entire appropriation if he finds some of its purposes wasteful or undesirable, or approving the entire appropriation so as not to hinder some of its legitimate purposes. Finally, it may not be amiss to state
that such arrangement also raises non-delegability issues considering that the implementing authority would still have to determine, again, both the actual amount to be expended and the actual purpose of the appropriation.
Since the foregoing determinations constitute the integral aspects of the power to appropriate, the implementing authority would, in effect, be exercising legislative prerogatives in violation of the principle of non-delegability.”
THE PDAF LUMP-SUM AMOUNT OF P24.79 BILLION WAS A FUNDING SOURCE ALLOTTED FOR MULTIPLE PURPOSES OF SPENDING, I.E., SCHOLARSHIPS, MEDICAL MISSIONS, ASSISTANCE TO INDIGENTS, PRESERVATION OF HISTORICAL MATERIALS, CONSTRUCTION OF ROADS, FLOOD CONTROL, ETC. IS THIS CONSTITUTIONAL?
NO. BECAUSE IT LEAVES THE ACTUAL AMOUNTS AND PURPOSES OF THE APPROPRIATION FOR FURTHER DETERMINATION AND, THEREFORE, DOES NOT READILY INDICATE A DISCERNIBLE ITEM WHICH MAY BE SUBJECT TO THE PRESIDENT‘S POWER OF ITEM VETO.
“This setup connotes that the appropriation law leaves the actual amounts and purposes of the appropriation for further determination and, therefore, does not readily indicate a discernible item which may be subject to the President‘s power of item veto.
In fact, on the accountability side, the same lump-sum budgeting scheme has, as the CoA Chairperson relays, ―limit[ed] state auditors from obtaining relevant data and information that would aid in more stringently auditing the utilization of said Funds.‖216 Accordingly, she recommends the adoption of a ―line by line budget or amount per proposed program, activity or project, and per implementing agency.
Hence, in view of the reasons above-stated, the Court finds the 2013 PDAF Article, as well as all Congressional Pork Barrel Laws of similar operation, to be unconstitutional.”
RESPONDENTS ARGUE THAT PDAF APPROPRIATION PROVIDES FOR A GREATER DEGREE OF FLEXIBILITY TO ACCOUNT FOR FUTURE CONTINGENCY. CAN THIS NOT JUSTIFY THE PDAF?
NO. SUCH JUSTIFICATION CANNOT BE AN EXCUSE TO DEFEAT WHAT THE CONSTITUTION REQUIRES. UNCONSTITUTIONAL MEANDS DO NOT JUSTIFY COMMENDABLE ENDS.
“That such budgeting system provides for a greater degree of flexibility to account for future contingencies cannot be an excuse to defeat what the Constitution requires. Clearly, the first and essential truth of the matter is that unconstitutional means do not justify even commendable ends.”
“It cannot be denied that most government actions are inspired with noble intentions, all geared towards the betterment of the nation and its people. But then again, it is important to remember this ethical principle: ‗The end does not justify the means.‘ No matter how noble and worthy of admiration the purpose of an act, but if the means to be employed in accomplishing it is simply irreconcilable with constitutional parameters, then it cannot still be allowed. The Court cannot just turn a blind eye and simply let it pass. It will continue to uphold the Constitution and its enshrined principles. ‗The Constitution must ever remain supreme. All must bow to the mandate of this law. Expediency must not be allowed to sap its strength nor greed for power debase its rectitude.‘‖
PETITIONERS ARGUE THAT CERTAIN FEATURES OF PDAF HAS AN ADVERSE EFFECT ON CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT. ARE THEY CORRECT?
YES. THE CONDUCT OF OVERSIGHT WOULD BE TAINTED AS LEGISLATORS WHO ARE VESTED WITH POST-ENACTMENT AUTHORITY WOULD BE CHECKING ON ACTIVITIES IN WHICH THEY THEMSELVES PARTICIPATE.
“The Court agrees with petitioners that certain features embedded in some forms of Congressional Pork Barrel, among others the 2013 PDAF Article, has an effect on congressional oversight. The fact that individual legislators are given post-enactment roles in the implementation of the budget makes it difficult for them to become disinterested ―observers‖ when scrutinizing, investigating or monitoring the implementation of the appropriation law. To a certain extent, the conduct of oversight would be tainted as said legislators, who are vested with post-enactment authority, would, in effect, be checking on activities in which they themselves participate.”
IS POST-ENACTMENT AUTHORIZATION UNDER PDAF CONSTITUTIONAL?
THE POST-ENACTMENT AUTHORIZATION ALLOWED UNDER PDAF IS AGAINST SECTION 14, ARTICLE VI OF THE CONSTITUTION. THE LEGISLATORS WOULD NECESSARILY BE ENGAGED IN ACTIVITIES FOR WHICH THEY COULD BE MADE TO APPEAR BEFORE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO ACCOUNT FOR THEIR PARTICIPATORY ACTS. APPEARING BEFORE THESE AGENCIES, THEY COULD TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THEIR POSITION AS LEGISLATORS.
“Also, it must be pointed out that this very same concept of postenactment authorization runs afoul of Section 14, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution which provides that:
Sec. 14. No Senator or Member of the House of Representatives may personally appear as counsel before any court of justice or before the Electoral Tribunals, or quasi-judicial and other administrative bodies.
Neither shall he, directly or indirectly, be interested financially in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned or controlled corporation, or its subsidiary, during his term of office. He shall not intervene in any matter before any office of the Government for his pecuniary benefit or where he may be called upon to act on account of his office.
Clearly, allowing legislators to intervene in the various phases of project implementation – a matter before another office of government – renders them susceptible to taking undue advantage of their own office.”
In sum, insofar as its post-enactment features dilute congressional oversight and violate Section 14, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, thus impairing public accountability, the 2013 PDAF Article and other forms of Congressional Pork Barrel of similar nature are deemed as unconstitutional.”
ONE PETITIONER SUBMITS THAT THE PORK BARREL SYSTEM ENABLES POLITICIANS TO PERPETUATE THEMSELVES IN POWER IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROHIBITION ON POLITICAL DYNASTIES. IS THIS VIEW CORRECT?
THE COURT FINDS THE ABOVE-STATED ARGUMENT TO BE LARGELY SPECULATIVE SINCE IT HAS NOT BEEN PROPERLY DEMONSTRATED HOW THE PORK BARREL SYSTEM WOULD BE ABLE TO PROPAGATE POLITICAL DYNASTIES.
PETITIONERS CONTEND THAT THE CONGRESSIONAL PORK BARREL GOES AGAINST THE CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES ON LOCAL AUTONOMY SINCE IT ALLOWS DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVES, WHO ARE NATIONAL OFFICERS, TO SUBSTITUTE THEIR JUDGMENTS IN UTILIZING PUBLIC FUNDS FOR LOCAL DEVELOPMENT. IS THIS CONTENTION CORRECT?
THE LEGISLATOR CAN BYPASS THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT AND INITIATE PROJECTS ON HIS OWN. SUCH SYSTEM CONTRIBUTES LITTLE TO OVERALL DEVELOPMENT OF THE DISTRICT AND WEAKENS INFRASTRUCTURE PLANNING AND COORDINATION.
“Philconsa described the 1994 CDF as an attempt ―to make equal the unequal‖ and that ―[i]t is also a recognition that individual members of Congress, far more than the President and their congressional colleagues, are
likely to be knowledgeable about the needs of their respective constituents and the priority to be given each project.‖231 Drawing strength from this pronouncement, previous legislators justified its existence by stating that ―the relatively small projects implemented under [the Congressional Pork Barrel] complement and link the national development goals to the countryside and grassroots as well as to depressed areas which are overlooked by central agencies which are preoccupied with mega-projects. Similarly, in his August 23, 2013 speech on the ―abolition‖ of PDAF and budgetary reforms, President Aquino mentioned that the Congressional Pork Barrel was originally established for a worthy goal, which is to enable the representatives to identify projects for communities that the LGU concerned cannot afford.
Notwithstanding these declarations, the Court, however, finds an inherent defect in the system which actually belies the avowed intention of ―making equal the unequal.‖
In particular, the Court observes that the gauge of PDAF and CDF allocation/division is based solely on the fact of
office, without taking into account the specific interests and peculiarities of the district the legislator represents. In this regard, the allocation/division limits are clearly not based on genuine parameters of equality, wherein economic or geographic indicators have been taken into consideration. As a result, a district representative of a highly-urbanized metropolis gets the same amount of funding as a district representative of a far-flung rural province which would be relatively ―underdeveloped compared to the former. To add, what rouses graver scrutiny is that even Senators and Party-List Representatives – and in some years, even the Vice-President – who do not represent any locality, receive funding from the Congressional Pork Barrel as well. These certainly are anathema to the Congressional Pork Barrel‘s original intent which is ―to make equal the unequal.‖ Ultimately, the PDAF and CDF had become personal funds under the effective control of each legislator and given unto them on the sole account of their office.
The Court also observes that this concept of legislator control underlying the CDF and PDAF conflicts with the functions of the various Local Development Councils (LDCs) which are already legally mandated to ―assist the corresponding sanggunian in setting the direction of economic and social development, and coordinating development efforts within its territorial jurisdiction.‖234 Considering that LDCs are instrumentalities whose functions are essentially geared towards managing local affairs, their programs, policies and resolutions should not be overridden nor duplicated by individual legislators, who are national officers that have no law-making authority except only when acting as a body. The undermining effect on local autonomy caused by the post-enactment authority conferred to the latter was succinctly put by petitioners in the following wise: With PDAF, a Congressman can simply bypass the local development council and initiate projects on his own, and even take sole credit for its execution. Indeed, this type of personality-driven project identification has not only contributed little to the overall development of the district, but has even contributed to ―further weakening infrastructure planning and coordination efforts of the government.‖
Thus, insofar as individual legislators are authorized to intervene in purely local matters and thereby subvert genuine local autonomy, the PDAF Article as well as all ther similar forms of Congressional Pork Barrel is deemed unconstitutional.”
PETITIONERS ARGUES THAT SECTION 8 OF PD 910 IS NOT AN APPROPRIATION LAW SINCE THE ―PRIMARY AND SPECIFIC PURPOSE OF PD 910 IS THE CREATION OF AN ENERGY DEVELOPMENT BOARD AND SECTION 8 THEREOF ONLY CREATED A SPECIAL FUND INCIDENTAL THERETO.
PETITIONERS ALSO ARGUES THAT SECTION 12 OF PD 1869 IS NEITHER A VALID APPROPRIATIONS LAW SINCE THE ALLOCATION OF THE PRESIDENTIAL SOCIAL FUND IS MERELY INCIDENTAL TO THE ―PRIMARY AND SPECIFIC PURPOSE OF PD 1869 WHICH IS THE AMENDMENT OF THE FRANCHISE AND POWERS OF PAGCOR.
ARE THEIR CONTENTIONS CORRECT?
NO. APPROPRIATION NEED NOT BE THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF THE LAW IN ORDER FOR A VALID APPROPRIATION TO EXIST. IF A DETERMINATE OR DETERMINABLE AMOUNT OF MONEY IS ALLOCATED FOR A PARTICULAR PUBLIC PURPOSE, THEN SUCH APPROPRIATION IS VALID.
“Thus, based on the foregoing, the Court cannot sustain the argument that the appropriation must be the ―primary and specific‖ purpose of the law in order for a valid appropriation law to exist. To reiterate, if a legal provision designates a determinate or determinable amount of money and allocates the same for a particular public purpose, then the legislative intent to appropriate becomes apparent and, hence, already sufficient to satisfy the requirement of an ―appropriation made by law‖ under contemplation of the Constitution.”
WHAT IS AN APPROPRIATION MADE BY LAW?
IT EXISTS WHEN WHEN A PROVISION OF LAW (A) SETS APART A DETERMINATE OR DETERMINABLE AMOUNT OF MONEY AND (B) ALLOCATES THE SAME FOR A PARTICULAR PUBLIC PURPOSE.
―An appropriation made by law‖ under the contemplation of Section 29(1), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution exists when a provision of law (a) sets apart a determinate or determinable amount of money and (b) allocates the same for a particular public purpose. These two minimum designations of amount and purpose stem from the very definition of the word ―appropriation,‖ which means ―to allot, assign, set apart or apply to a particular use or purpose,‖ and hence, if written into the law, demonstrate that the legislative intent to appropriate exists. As the Constitution ―does not provide or prescribe any particular form of words or religious recitals in which an authorization or appropriation by Congress shall be made, except that it be ‗made by law,‘‖ an appropriation law may – according to Philconsa – be ―detailed and as broad as Congress wants it to be‖ for as long as the intent to appropriate may be gleaned from the same. As held in the
case of Guingona, Jr.: [T]here is no provision in our Constitution that provides or prescribes any particular form of words or religious recitals in which an authorization or appropriation by Congress shall be made, except that it be “made by law,” such as precisely the authorization or appropriation under the questioned presidential decrees.
In other words, in terms of time horizons, an appropriation may be made impliedly (as by past but subsisting legislations) as well as expressly for the current fiscal year (as by enactment of laws by the present Congress), just as said appropriation may be made in general as well as in specific terms. The Congressional authorization may be embodied in annual laws, such as a general appropriations act or in special provisions of laws of general or special application which appropriate public funds for specific public purposes, such as the questioned decrees. An appropriation measure is sufficient if the legislative intention clearly and certainly appears from the
language employed (In re Continuing Appropriations, 32 P. 272), whether in the past or in the present. (Emphases and underscoring supplied).
Likewise, as ruled by the US Supreme Court in State of Nevada v. La Grave: To constitute an appropriation there must be money placed in a fund applicable to the designated purpose. The word appropriate means to allot, assign, set apart or apply to a particular use or purpose.
An appropriation in the sense of the constitution means the setting apart a portion of the public funds for a public purpose. No particular form of words is necessary for the purpose, if the intention to appropriate is plainly manifested. (Emphases supplied)”
IN THE LIGHT OF THE DEFINITION OF APPROPRIATION, WHAT MAKES THE PDAF APPROPRIATION ILLEGAL?
IT IS THE INTERMEDIATE APPROPRIATIONS WHICH MAKE IT ILLEGAL. THESE INTERMEDIATE APPROPRIATIONS ARE THE ACTUAL APPROPRIATIONS MEANT FOR ENFORCEMENT AND SINCE THEY ARE MADE BY INDIVIDUAL LEGISLATORS AFTER THE GAA IS PASSED, THEY OCCUR OUTSIDE THE LAW.
“In this relation, it is apropos to note that the 2013 PDAF Article cannot be properly deemed as a legal appropriation under the said constitutional provision precisely because, as earlier stated, it contains postenactment measures which effectively create a system of intermediate appropriations. These intermediate appropriations are the actual appropriations meant for enforcement and since they are made by individual legislators after the GAA is passed, they occur outside the law. As such, the Court observes that the real appropriation made under the 2013 PDAF Article is not the P24.79 Billion allocated for the entire PDAF, but rather the post-enactment determinations made by the individual legislators which are, to repeat, occurrences outside of the law. Irrefragably, the 2013 PDAF Article does not constitute an ―appropriation made by law‖ since it, in its truest sense, only authorizes individual legislators to appropriate in violation of the non-delegability principle as afore-discussed.”
PETITIONERS ARGUE THAT SECTION 8 OF PD 910 CONSTITUTES AN UNDUE DELEGATION OF LEGISLATIVE POWER SINCE THE PHRASE “―AND FOR SUCH OTHER PURPOSES AS MAY BE HEREAFTER DIRECTED BY THE PRESIDENT” GIVES THE PRESIDENT ―UNBRIDLED DISCRETION TO DETERMINE FOR WHAT PURPOSE THE FUNDS WILL BE USED. IS THEIR CONTENTION CORRECT?
THE APPROPRIATION LAW MUST CONTAIN ADEQUATE LEGISLATIVE GUIDELINES IF THE SAME LAW DELEGATES RULE-MAKING AUTHORITY TO THE EXECUTIVE. PD 910 DOES NOT CONTAIN SUCH GUIDELINES.
“The Court agrees with petitioners‘ submissions. While the designation of a determinate or determinable amount for a particular public purpose is sufficient for a legal appropriation to exist, the appropriation law must contain adequate legislative guidelines if the same law delegates rule-making authority to the Executive.”
WHAT ARE THE PURPOSES OF THESE GUIDELINES?
EITHER (A) TO FILL UP UP THE DETAILS OF THE LAW FOR ITS ENFORCEMENT, KNOWN AS SUPPLEMENTARY RULE-MAKING, OR (B) TO ASCERTAIN FACTS TO BRING THE LAW INTO ACTUAL OPERATION, REFERRED TO AS CONTINGENT RULE-MAKING.
“…. In relation thereto, it may exercise its rule-making authority to greater particularize the guidelines for such purpose of (a) filling up the details of the law for its enforcement, known as supplementary rule-making, or (b) ascertaining facts to bring the law into actual operation, referred to as contingent rule-making.”
WHAT ARE THE TESTS TO ENSURE THAT THE LEGISLATIVE GUIDELINES FOR DELEGATED RULEMAKING ARE INDEED ADEQUATE?
THERE ARE TWO FUNDAMENTAL TESTS: (A) THE COMPLETENESS TEST AND (B) THE SUFFICIENT STANDARD TEST.
WHAT IS THE COMPLETENESS TEST?
IT MEANS THAT THE LAW IS COMPLETE WHEN IT SETS FORTH THEREIN THE POLICY TO BE EXECUTED, CARRIED OUT OR IMPLEMENTED BY THE DELEGATE.
WHAT IS THE SUFFICIENT STANDARD TEST?
IT MEANS THAT A LAW LAYS DOWN A SUFFICIENT STANDARD WHEN IT PROVIDES ADEQUATE GUIDELINES OR LIMITATIONS IN THE LAW TO MAP OUT THE BOUNDARIES OF THE DELEGATE‘S AUTHORITY AND PREVENT THE DELEGATION FROM RUNNING RIOT.
“There are two (2) fundamental tests to ensure that the legislative guidelines for delegated rulemaking are indeed adequate. The first test is called the ―completeness test.‖
Case law states that a law is complete when it sets forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out, or implemented by the delegate. On the other hand, the second test is called the ―sufficient standard test.‖ Jurisprudence holds that a law lays down a sufficient standard when it provides adequate guidelines or limitations in the law to map out the boundaries of the delegate‘s authority and prevent the delegation from running riot.”
WHAT SHOULD CHARACTERIZE THE REQUIRED STANDARD?
THE STANDARD MUST SPECIFY THE LIMITS OF THE DELEGATE‘S AUTHORITY,ANNOUNCE THE LEGISLATIVE POLICY, AND IDENTIFY THE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH IT IS TO BE IMPLEMENTED.
“To be sufficient, the standard must specify the limits of the delegate‘s authority, announce the legislative policy, and identify the conditions under which it is to be implemented.”
BASED ON THE ABOVE PRINCIPLES, HOW SHOULD SECTION 8 OF PD 910 BE VIEWED?
THE PHRASE “AND FOR SUCH OTHER PURPOSES AS MAY BE HEREAFTER DIRECTED BY THE PRESIDENT” CONSTITUTES AN UNDUE DELEGATION OF LEGISLATIVE POWER INSOFAR AS IT DOES NOT LAY DOWN A SUFFICIENT STANDARD TO ADEQUATELY DETERMINE THE LIMITS OF THE PRESIDENT‘S AUTHORITY WITH RESPECT TO THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH THE MALAMPAYA FUNDS MAY BE USED.
“In view of the foregoing, the Court agrees with petitioners that the phrase ―and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President‖ under Section 8 of PD 910 constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power insofar as it does not lay down a sufficient standard to adequately determine the limits of the President‘s authority with respect to the purpose for which the Malampaya Funds may be used.
As it reads, the said phrase gives the President wide latitude to use the Malampaya Funds for any other purpose he may direct and, in effect, allows him to unilaterally appropriate public funds beyond the purview of the law.”
RESPONDENT ARGUES THAT THE PHRASE “PHRASE “AND FOR SUCH OTHER PURPOSES AS MAY BE HEREAFTER DIRECTED BY THE PRESIDENT” MAY BE CONFINED ONLY TO ENERGY DEVELOPMENT AND EXPLOITATION PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS OF THE GOVERNMENT BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE OF EJUSDEM GENERIS. IS THIS CONTENTION CORRECT?
NO, FOR THREE REASONS:
FIRST, THE PHRASE ―ENERGY RESOURCE EVELOPMENT AND EXPLOITATION PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS OF THE GOVERNMENT‖STATES A SINGULAR AND GENERAL CLASS AND HENCE, CANNOT BE TREATED AS A STATUTORY REFERENCE OF SPECIFIC THINGS FROM WHICH THE GENERAL PHRASE ―FOR SUCH OTHER PURPOSES‖ MAY BE LIMITED;
SECOND, THE SAID PHRASE ALSO EXHAUSTS THE CLASS IT REPRESENTS, NAMELY ENERGY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS OF THE GOVERNMENT; AND,
THIRD, THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT HAS, IN FACT, USED THE MALAMPAYA FUNDS FOR NON-ENERGY RELATED PURPOSES UNDER THE SUBJECT PHRASE, THEREBY CONTRADICTING RESPONDENTS‘ OWN POSITION THAT IT IS LIMITED ONLY TO ―ENERGY RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT AND EXPLOITATION PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS OF THE GOVERNMENT.‖
HOW ABOUT THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF SECTION 12 OF PD 1869 AS AMENDED BY PD 1993? WHAT DOES IT PROVIDE?
IT PROVIDES THAT THE PRESIDENTIAL SOCIAL FUND MAY BE USED FOR TWO PURPOSES:
[FIRST,] TO FINANCE THE PRIORITY INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS AND;
[SECOND,] TO FINANCE THE RESTORATION OF DAMAGED OR DESTROYED FACILITIES DUE TO CALAMITIES, AS MAY BE DIRECTED AND AUTHORIZED BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES.‖
IS THE SECOND PURPOSE CONSTITUTIONAL?
THE SECOND INDICATED PURPOSE ADEQUATELY CURTAILS THE AUTHORITY OF THE PRESIDENT TO SPEND THE PRESIDENTIAL SOCIAL FUND ONLY FOR RESTORATION PURPOSES WHICH ARISE FROM CALAMITIES.
IS THE FIRST PURPOSE CONSTITUTIONAL?
IT GIVES THE PRESIDENT CARTE BLANCHE AUTHORITY TO USE THE SAME FUND FOR ANY INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT HE MAY SO DETERMINE AS A ―PRIORITY‖. VERILY, THE LAW DOES NOT SUPPLY A DEFINITION OF ―PRIORITY INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS‖ AND HENCE, LEAVES THE PRESIDENT WITHOUT ANY GUIDELINE TO CONSTRUE THE SAME.
“The Court finds that while the second indicated purpose adequately curtails the authority of the President to spend the Presidential Social Fund only for restoration purposes which arise from calamities, the first indicated purpose, however, gives him carte blanche authority to use the same fund for any infrastructure project he may so determine as a ―priority‖. Verily, the law does not supply
a definition of ―priority infrastructure development projects‖ and hence, leaves the President without any guideline to construe the same. To note, the delimitation of a project as one of ―infrastructure‖ is too broad of a classification since the said term could pertain to any kind of facility. This may be deduced from its lexicographic definition as follows: ―[t]he underlying framework of a system, [especially] public services and facilities (such as highways, schools, bridges, sewers, and water-systems) needed to support commerce as well as economic and residential development.
In fine, the phrase ―to finance the priority infrastructure development projects‖ must be stricken down as unconstitutional since – similar to the above assailed provision under Section 8 of PD 910 – it lies independently unfettered by any sufficient standard of the delegating law. As they are severable, all other provisions of Section 12 of PD 1869, as amended by PD 1993, remains legally effective and subsisting.”
PETITIONER PRAY THAT THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY AND/OR DBM BE ORDERED TO RELEASE TO COA AND THE PUBLIC THE FOLLOWING:
(A) ―THE COMPLETE SCHEDULE/LIST OF LEGISLATORS WHO HAVE AVAILED OF THEIR PDAF AND VILP FROM THE YEARS 2003 TO 2013, SPECIFYING THE USE OF THE FUNDS, THE PROJECT OR ACTIVITY AND THE RECIPIENT ENTITIES OR INDIVIDUALS, AND ALL PERTINENT DATA THERETO‖ (PDAF USE SCHEDULE/LIST);254 AND
(B) ―THE USE OF THE EXECUTIVE‘S [LUMP-SUM, DISCRETIONARY] FUNDS, INCLUDING THE PROCEEDS FROM THE X X X MALAMPAYA FUND[S] [AND] REMITTANCES FROM THE [PAGCOR] X X X FROM 2003 TO 2013, SPECIFYING THE X X X PROJECT OR ACTIVITY AND THE RECIPIENT ENTITIES OR INDIVIDUALS, AND ALL PERTINENT DATA THERETO‖255 (PRESIDENTIAL PORK USE REPORT).
PETITIONERS BASED THEIR REQUEST ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS THAT THE STATE ADOPTS AND IMPLEMENTS A POLICY OF FULL PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF ALL ITS TRANSACTIONS INVOLVING PUBLIC INTEREST AND THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO INFORMATION ON MATTERS OF PUBLIC CONCERN AND ACCESS TO OFFICIAL RECORDS AND DOCUMENTS SHALL BE AFFORDED THE CITIZENS.
IS THEIR PRAYER PROPER?
THE PROPER REMEDY TO INVOKE THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION IS TO FILE A PETITION FOR MANDAMUS.
“Case law instructs that the proper remedy to invoke the right to information is to file a petition for mandamus. As explained in the case of Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission:256 [W]hile the manner of examining public records may be subject to reasonable regulation by the government agency in custody thereof, the duty to disclose the information of public concern, and to afford access to public records cannot be discretionary on the part of said agencies.
Certainly, its performance cannot be made contingent upon the discretion of such agencies. Otherwise, the enjoyment of the constitutional right may be rendered nugatory by any whimsical exercise of agency discretion.
The constitutional duty, not being discretionary, its performance may be compelled by a writ of mandamus in a proper case.”
WHAT IS THE DECISIVE QUESTION ON THE PROPRIETY OF THE SSUANCE OF THE WRIT OF MANDAMUS?
THE QUESTION IS WHETHER THE INFORMATION SOUGHT BY THE PETITIONER IS WITHIN THE AMBIT OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEE.
DOES THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION INCLUDE THE RIGHT TO COMPEL THE PREPARATION OF LISTS ABSTRACTS, SUMMARIES AND THE LIKE?
NO AS RULED IN VALMONTE VS. BELMONTE.
WHAT IS ESSENTIAL IN A MANDAMUS CASE PRAYING FOR CERTAIN DOCUMENTS AND RECORDS?
IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE ―APPLICANT HAS A WELL DEFINED, CLEAR AND CERTAIN LEGAL RIGHT TO THE THING DEMANDED AND THAT IT IS THE IMPERATIVE DUTY OF DEFENDANT TO PERFORM THE ACT REQUIRED.
IS THE REQUEST OF THE PETITIONERS FOR DOCUMENTS AND RECORDS PROPER?
NO BECAUSE THEY FAILED TO ESTABLISH A WELL DEFINED, CLEAR AND CERTAIN LEGAL RIGHTS TO BE FURNISHED OF THE DOCUMENTS THEY REQUESTED.
“The request of the petitioners fails to meet this standard, there being no duty on the part of respondent to prepare the list requested. (Emphases supplied)
In these cases, aside from the fact that none of the petitions are in the nature of mandamus actions, the Court finds that petitioners have failed to establish a ―a well-defined, clear and certain legal right‖ to be furnished by the Executive Secretary and/or the DBM of their requested PDAF Use Schedule/List and Presidential Pork Use Report. Neither did petitioners assert any law or administrative issuance which would form the bases of the
latter‘s duty to furnish them with the documents requested. While petitioners pray that said information be equally released to the CoA, it must be pointed out that the CoA has not been impleaded as a party to these cases nor has it filed any petition before the Court to be allowed access to or to compel the release of any official document relevant to the conduct of its audit investigations. While the Court recognizes that the information requested is a matter of significant public concern, however, if only to ensure that the parameters of disclosure are properly foisted and so as not to unduly hamper the equally important interests of the government, it is constrained to deny petitioners‘ prayer on this score, without prejudice to a proper mandamus case which they, or even the CoA, may choose to pursue through a separate petition.”
TO READ THE DECISION, JUST DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.
SCD-2013-0027 – NOV 2013 – PDAF