SC starts oral arguments on PDAF's legality today
MANILA - Lawyers face-off in oral arguments before the Supreme Court (SC) starting today on the question of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)'s legality.
Lawyers from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) will defend the constitutionality of PDAF.
They will represent respondents Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
Lawyers from the opposite side will assail the constitutionality of PDAF.
They will represent petitioners former senatorial candidates Greco Belgica and Samson Alcantara, and former Boac, Marinduque Mayor Pedrito Nepomuceno.
After presenting their arguments, they will face interpellation from the justices.
The SC has divided the debate into two parts – procedural and substantive issues.
On the technical aspect, the parties will tackle whether the issues raised in the petitions are for judicial adjudication and whether the rulings in Philconsa v. Enriquez in August 1994 and LAMP vs DBM in April last year bar the re-litigation of the constitutional questions on PDAF.
Petitioners and respondents were directed to argue on the merits of whether PDAF constitutes undue delegation of legislative power to the executive, violates the separation of powers, impairs the system of checks and balances, and violates the accountability provision in the Constitution.
They were also ordered to tackle the legality of the presidential pork barrel, particularly the Malampaya funds and Presidential Social Fund.
The parties will also argue on whether the temporary restraining order (TRO) on disbursement on PDAF needs to be lifted for “humanitarian reason” to allow the funds to be used for indigent scholars and patients.
Petitioners argue that the system on discretionary funds of both Congress and Malacañang violates the constitutional limits given to the executive and the legislative because they are able to spend money beyond what is approved by Congress “since these are lump sum funds.”
On the other hand, the OSG said the SC has already upheld the constitutionality of the PDAF system in previous cases, including LAMP vs. DBM.
“A decision of the Honorable Court may preempt the efforts of the President and Congress, and a judicial solution may inadvertently limit a more progressive solution,” the OSG said.