DAP a recycled illegal Marcos law

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THE Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is a reincarnation of an old budget measure that was implemented during the time of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos but declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1987.

In G.R. No. 71977, the Court ruled that Section 44 of Presidential Decree No. 1177, then known as the Budget Reform Decree of 1977, was null and void because it “allows the president to override the safeguards, form and procedures prescribed by the Constitution in approving appropriations.”

“Section 44 of the same decree amounts to an undue delegation of legislative powers to the Executive,” the Court said.

The petition against the particular section of the budget measure was filed by members of the National Assembly led by Demetrio Demetria.


It named are respondents Manuel Alba, then budget minister, and Victor Macalingcag, then the National treasurer.

Former Budget secretary Benjamin Diokno said the High Court decision on PD 1177 “supports the proposition that the DAP is unconstitutional.”

“Note that the ruling was made by the newly revamped Supreme Court [after EDSA 1]on a case that was filed against then Budget Minister Alba. The ruling was done at a time when the people’s hope and confidence on its government was at its historic high,” Diokno told The Manila Times.

He lamented that the ruling was ignored by the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd and his predecessor, Gloria Arroyo.

Paragraph 1 of Section 44 of PD 1177 provided that “The President shall have the authority to transfer any fund, appropriated for the different departments, bureaus, offices and agencies of the Executive Department, which are included in the General Appropriations Act, to any program, project or activity of any department, bureau, or office included in the General Appropriations Act or approved after its enactment.“

The High Tribunal ruled that the particular paragraph “unduly over extends the privilege granted under said Section 16[5] [of the old Constitution]. It empowers the President to indiscriminately transfer funds from one department, bureau, office or agency of the Executive Department to any program, project or activity of any department, bureau or office included in the General Appropriations Act or approved after its enactment, without regard as to whether or not the funds to be transferred are actually savings in the item from which the same are to be taken, or whether or not the transfer is for the purpose of augmenting the item to which said transfer is to be made.”

“It does not only completely disregard the standards set in the fundamental law, thereby amounting to an undue delegation of legislative powers, but likewise goes beyond the tenor thereof. Indeed, such constitutional infirmities render the provision in question null and void,” the Court said.

The decision gave weight to the petitioners’ view that “ . . . Pres. Decree No. 1177 opens the floodgates for the enactment of unfunded appropriations, results in uncontrolled executive expenditures, diffuses accountability for budgetary performance and entrenches the pork barrel system as the ruling party may well expand [sic]public money not on the basis of development priorities but on political and personal expediency.”

“The nation has not recovered from the shock, and worst, the economic destitution brought about by the plundering of the Treasury by the deposed dictator and his cohorts. A provision which allows even the slightest possibility of a repetition of this sad experience cannot remain written in our statute books,” the Court en banc, then led by the late chief justice Claudio Teehankee Sr., said.

Reincarnation
Like PD 1177, DAP “upsets the balance of power” and should therefore be deemed “repugnant and unconstitutional,” Diokno said.

“. . . the President cannot rearrange the budget and create a budget within the general appropriations law. Legislators, on the other hand, cannot and should not participate in the implementation of the budget,” he pointed out.

Diokno, an authority on budgetary issues, said the balance of power emanates from the doctrine of separation of powers enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution—the President prepares, proposes, and implements the budget, Congress authorizes it, and the Supreme Court serves as final arbiter on the budget law in case of disagreement between the President and Congress.

“The basic doctrine is that once Congress has approved the budget, and the President has signed it into law, any act that would upset this intended balance of power is deemed repugnant and unconstitutional. The President cannot slice and dice the general appropriations law, reshape and change its budget priorities, and come up with an altered spending package—a new, unauthorized budget within the budget. Allowing it effectively changes the balance of power,” he said.

On Sunday, Diokno said Filipinos are “angry and frustrated” with the Aquino government for defending DAP despite the legal questions on its implementation.

“The first best hope is for the Supreme Court to rise to the occasion and declare the DAP unconstitutional and define clearly the areas of responsibility of the Executive and the Legislature. An ideal budget system is one which is transparent, where Congress has and exercises the power of the purse, where the power of the President to impound appropriations require congressional concurrence, where the Commission on Audit exercises some prosecutorial powers, and where ‘savings’ is strictly defined and observed,” he said.

Diokno said an ideal budget system “is unlikely to emerge given the present leadership” and because of this, the people’s initiative to pass a new budget reform law could be “the last best hope for this country.”

According to him, true reforms in the flawed budget system can only be done by a “truly reform-minded” president, which Aquino is not.

“Unless real reforms are done, the dysfunctional, corruption-prone budget system will continue to reign not only now but in the future. But President Aquino has drawn the line: he likes DAP [Disbursement Acceleration Program] and is determined to defend it,” Diokno said.

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18 Comments

  1. why did diokno dring this issue out lately? if he is a good vigilante he should brought it up before Pnoy took office…….. diokno’s empire have corrupt past record also burried by the past………..hahahahah what a shame…. they are all corrupt living w/ their lot….
    kawawang JUAN DELA CRUZ…

  2. clearly, pnoy tried to depend DAP and insist the legality dahil na bisto na sila ang pamimigay nila ng tag 100 million sa mga senators at tad 50 million sa mga congressmen at iba pa KKK.

  3. joey brillantes on

    really? so the president and his legal advisers did not read that decision or deliberately ignored it? and really PNOY is not a reform-minded politician as Diokno, former budget sec of the disgraced erap presidency, averred…sometimes, when you think of these people who were given the chance to make a big difference in the lives of ordinary filipinos, you will be dismayed of their utter lack of conviction and at best their lack of humility to accept the reality that they have miserably failed to rein in the juggernaut of corruption in our society. yes, there are certain acts, policies of the PNOY admin that frustrate us and we have to actively denounce and protest loudly because by doing so, we are trying to fortify and strengthen the democratic project that we have restored in 1986. But never have we been so excited and remain focused in our dreams to make a giant step in our quest for a just and prosperous Philippines than what we have right now in our present government. the political nitpickers and carpers will always find fault in the PNOY admin, and perhaps, even praying that PNOY will fail in his promises. But PNOY must never be distracted. With a very strong electoral mandate in 2010, PNOY must seize every moment to make a difference in people’s lives given the span of years left for his presidency. WHETHER HIS approval rating goes up or down he must not vacillate in his reform agenda. to paraphrase a line from a savant, ” for those democrats who govern sincerely and competently, the first thing required is indifference to politicians, but not to public interest.”

  4. How come the President can’t understand this?I have serous doubts now as to his being a different breed of politician.After all ,his allowing the massive use of government resources to help his candidates last election has given him away!”PEOPLES INITIATIVE”,is our strongest counter!

  5. Well, well; we need DAP to accelerate everything to fix the numbers being prepared by NEDA to satisfy the figures dictated by IMF World Bank; same as what was done during the previous administration FVR notably, doctoring the figures. So, blame DBM and NEDA; and the scalawags in the upper and lower chambers as well as those in robes were benefited as a consequence.

  6. No wonder, after Marcos, trapos still lingers within the Cory, FVR, Erap, GMA and to this day. What else is new, for same old trapos and corrupt officials. Nothing is new but permanent ambitions and protection of self interests.

  7. Well stated truth. DAP is unconstitutional. It is not subjected to check and balance which forms the basis of our form of government.

  8. sec abad abogado ka ba bkt ipnagkanulo mo si pnoy bkt di mo ipinaliwag ang ibig sbihn ng batas na iyon. feel mo powerful ka dahil trusted ka ni pnoy. it shows only you did not understand the law.

  9. the king and prince of pork and cohorts nakatikim na ng kapangyarihan wala pwede makialam silalang. sinira nya ang pangalan ni ninoy at cory kakahiya ka

  10. Is the President really committed to end graft and corruption? I don’t think so. I only hope that the Supreme Court will not cower in fear to be impeached and/or to succumb to temptations as what happens to most members of Congress during the impeachment of Chief Justice Corona .

  11. jose b. taganahan on

    Well, its no longer news to me. The present Cory constitution also incorporates the Marcos party list system and the barangay as the lowest local government unit, which effectively expand the government and therefore also dramatically and significantly increased the administrative cost of the government. It is surprising that people are not questioning why some municipalities have administrative expenses including salaries, allowances and wages of appointed and elected official of the municipality and its constituent barangays much higher than the income of the same municipalities. In fact, these municipalities are totally dependent on the allotments from the national government in order to pay for the administrative cost, salaries, allowances and wages of elective and appointed official of the said municipalities! We should go back to the pre-martial law era where municipal councilors don’t received salaries except per diems during sessions. I remember my uncle receiving a measly per diem of 40 pesos everytime he attended a council session. Only big Cities and Municipalities with sufficient income have their councilors paid on a monthly basis.

  12. Ano kaya ang kahulugan ng “truly reformed-minded” president na maaari lamang makagawa ng reporma sa bulok na sistema ng budget,ito kaya ay ibig sabihin “hindi isip batang kaisipan o normal na kaisipan”, ng president, ito kaya ang gustong ipakahulugan ni Diokno? Maaari nga tama si Diokno. Ayaw na ni PNoy bitiwan ang DAP na matagal na palang idiniklara ng korte suprema na unconstitutional, 1987 pa ang section 44 ng PD # 1177 na pinagbatayan nila ng pagbuo ng DAP. PNoy wala ka na,trapo kana rin wala ng naniniwala sa iyo.

  13. So, DAP is the direct progeny of a law spawned by a dictatorial regime? Come to think of it, it’s not surprising, isn’t it? Thanks to Mr. Diokno for pointing this out.

  14. This article casts a bright light to the shadowy workings of the DAP system. Lets hope Mr. President sees the light. Hopefully, there’s no brownout on the straight road (“daang matuwid”) you are following. This glitch in the system should be patched. Leveling up to PNoy version 1.1 may well involve acknowledging the unconstitutional loophole in the system and plugging it. On the other hand, said patch should include revamping or scrapping the notorious PDAF.

  15. If this information is correct, why oh, why will PNoy insist that DAP is legal, when it is not? And how can Lourdes Sereno and Leonen convince the other justices that PNoy’s DAP is legal when it was declared illegal even during the Marcos time? The matter has already a precedent. PNoy’s puppies in the Supreme Court cannot do otherwise.