SC urged: Declare DAP unconstitutional
MANILA - Former congressman and former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) chief Augusto Syjuco, Jr. filed a petition with the Supreme Court (SC) that seeks to declare as unconstitutional the Aquino administration's controversial Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP).
In a 14-page petition for certiorari filed today, Monday, Syjuco pointed out that the 1987 Constitution does not allow any transfer of appropriations, and provides that all appropriations "shall originate exclusively" from Congress, specifically, the House of Representatives.
"The executive branch of the government created 'a side-line budget within the budget' so as to create a discretionary fund which they can appropriate and release as their whims and desires might dictate.'
"Worse was when they released funds to Senators who belong to a different branch of the government. This is a blatant and gross violation of the Constitution," the petition read.
Syjuco was referring to the release of additional pork barrel, at P50 million to each Senator, except for two: Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Bongbong Marcos, in 2012, after the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
This disbursement was coursed through Senate President Franklin Drilon, who, together with Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Syjuco named as a respondent in his petition.
As of Oct. 1, 2013, P137.3 billion was released by Malacanan under the DAP, which include the P82.5 billion released in 2011, and P54.8 billion disbursed in 2012.
Syjuco slammed these releases as having taken the form of a Presidential "pork barrel" which is "illegal and unconstitutional."
The DAP was created by President Aquino, through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in October 2011. It is described as a "stimulus package... designed to fast-track public spending and pushes economic growth to cover high-impact budgetary programs and projects which will be augmented out of the savings generated during the year and additional revenue sources" and in order to "accelerate spending and address low Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth."
Malacanan defended the DAP, stating that this is allowed under Art VI, Sec. 25 (5) of the 1987 Constitution in relation to provisions of the Revised 1987 Administrative Code.
The Palace said the President is authorized to allocate "savings" to priority projects.
"As stated and admitted by respondent Florencio B. Abad, the creation of the Disbursement Acceleration Prgram (DAP) is not by virtue of any Executive Order from the President but a creation of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). The disbursement and release of these budgets are primarily initiated by the DBM and approved by the President without congressional appropriation," Syjuco's petition read.
THREE REASONS WHY DAP SHOULD BE DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL
In sum, Syjuco argued that the DAP should be declared unconstitutional and illegal for three reasons:
(1) no law was passed creating it;
(2) funds for the DAP were taken from uncompleted and unperformed projects, and, thus, not "savings" as Malacanan claims; and
(3) the DAP is being used to augment new budget allocations not approved by Congress or not contained in the general appropriations act (GAA).
"Sec 24, Art VI of our present Constitution, the 1987 Constitution, provides:
'All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills, shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with the amendments.'
While Sec 25, Art VI, provides:
'[A]ll appropriation bills emanate from the House of Representatives belonging to the legislative branch of the government,'" the petition read.
Syjuco pointed out that the Constitution "further restricts that only items in the general appropriations law allocated for the respective offices of President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of Constitutional Commissions, may be augmented by its own savings."
DAP FUNDS NOT FROM "SAVINGS"
Syjuco stressed that "savings," as defined in appropriations law, refers to a surplus in budget after the completion or payment of a particular line item budget included in the general appropriations law.
In short, "savings" are funds remaining from already enacted projects.
Funds under the DAP, however, cannot be considered "savings," Syjuco stressed, because they came from projects that were not completed or not performed.
"[W]hen the funds were never used or the project is deferred, it cannot be classified as savings.'
"For [DAP], the alleged savings generated by the executive department was not a surplus of budget. The funds... were re-aligned budgets from slow moving items, to items or projet which the executive branch deemed appropriate and were not originally used to finance a particular project wherein a surplus was realized," the petition stressed.
Syjuco told the high court that if the DAP were to be allowed to continue,"all tax payers of this country stand to be directly affected by the illegal appropriation and disbursement of public funds."
"This program has been implemented, being implemented and to be continuously implemented by the respondents with the use of public funds to damage and prejudice every tax payer of this country who contributes to the collection and accumulation of public funds," the petition read.
Syjuco's petition also told the high court that respondents Abad and Drilon should be held "accountable and liable for their unlawful and unconstitutional acts," and criminal and administrative cases should be pursued against them.