Lift TRO on PDAF for scholars, SC urged
MANILA - Government has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to partially lift the temporary restraining order on the release of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of legislators, specifically the allocation for scholarships for the remainder of 2013.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) has filed a motion asking that the TRO be partially lifted specifically for PDAF releases for scholarships.
“There is, I understand a motion from the Lower House for the Supreme Court to partially lift the TRO as far as the portion allocated—2013 lang ang pinag-uusapan natin—the portion for the scholars that have already been allocated in the budget for 2013," she said.
"My understanding is magse-second semester na at iniisip po nila ‘yung ipopondo doon sa tuition fee ng mga scholars nung ibang representante," Valte added.
In a 23-page Consolidated Comment representing Congress, and the Executive Department through President Aquino, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, and Budget Secretary Butch Abad, the OSG said the three petitions that question the constitutionality of PDAF and Malampaya funds the said public funds should be dismissed.
The OSG said that the solution to the alleged misuse of these funds may simply be one involving implementation, and not a judicial one.
"A hasty constitutional interpretation may create signposts which could limit the scope of the policy responses by the Executive and the Congress in crafting reforms meant to address the reported abuses of the PDAF. We therefore urge the Honorable Court to allow the reform-oriented political process to proceed," the OSG said.
"The reported abuses of the PDAF are problems of implementation, they do not go into the constitutionality of the law, as defined by this Honorable Court's existing jurisprudence. Under the constitutional structure of our government, the remedy lies elsewhere: prosecution by the Executive or the Ombudsman, or through the political process, by means of a statutory amendment," it added.
As far as the plea for partial lifting of the TRO is concerned, the OSG pointed out that over 400,000 scholars rely on lawmakers' pork barrel funds for their education, while indigent patients also benefit from the funds.
The OSG urged the high court to partially lift the restraining order so that these beneficiaries may avail of financial aid from the pork funds. - with a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News