SC urged to lift stay order vs PDAF, Malampaya funds
MANILA - The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is urging the Supreme Court (SC) to lift its temporary restraining order (TRO) on the release and usage of the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) of lawmakers, and the Malampaya Funds.
In a 23-page Consolidated Comment representing respondent 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 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.
"The Honorable Court (SC) is presented with a controversy that cannot be decided without affecting the current reforms being undertaken by the political branches of government. A decision of the Honorable Court may preempt the efforts of the President and the Congress, and a judicial solution may inadvertently limit a more progressive solution.
"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 OSG pointed out that the high court's "prior decisions recognize the constitutionality of a system where members of Congress are allowed to propose and identify projects to be implemented by line agencies so long as the President retains the final discretion to reject such proposals."
"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.
"The Court cannot invalidate a law that is 'capable of lawful enforcement' on the ground that the law has been abused by corrupt legislators and their cohorts... [I]t may very well be that the solution arrived at by the political departments will no longer require this Honorable Court to impose a constitutional solution to what is otherwise a political problem," the OSG said.
The consolidated comment further pointed out that the Malampaya Fund and the President's Social Fund (PSF) are "special funds, the disposition of which have been constitutionally delegated to the President."
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.