MANILA - Senator Jinggoy Estrada is circumventing the decision of the Supreme Court by skillfully realigning his P200 million priority development assistance fund (PDAF) to the budgets of Manila, Caloocan, and a town in Cagayan province.
In a statement, lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the high court was very precise in its decision declaring the pork barrel unconstitutional. There, the high court said the move was to "rectify an error which has persisted in the chronicles of our history" such as interventions from legislators.
“To sanction such 're-insertion' of their PDAF in the budget and allow them to realign or re-assign the funds to whatever or whomsoever they desire, is to circumvent the ruling of the SC that the legislators should not be accorded 'post-enactment authority' in the areas of ‘project identification, fund release, or fund realignment,’” Macalintal said.
He explained Estrada’s action is a "post enactment" – one that is not related to his congressional oversight function.
"Estrada’s act of realigning his 're-inserted PDAF' is tantamount to 'playing a role' in the implementation of the budget which, as the SC decision declares, is violative of the principle of separation of powers and therefore unconstitutional,” he said.
He said the SC was clear in saying that lawmakers can’t “substitute their judgments in utilizing public funds for local development.”
He said allowing legislators to circumvent the SC is "to revert to the evil sought to be prevented by the SC decision, that of ultimately or once again allowing the PDAF ‘to become personal funds under the effective control of each legislators and given unto them on the sole account of their office.'"