High Court poised to reject Palace appeal
THE Supreme Court (SC) is not likely to change its ruling that the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is unconstitutional, with the justices set to uphold their respective votes, a high court source told The Manila Times.
The source said over the weekend the draft ponencia of Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin rejecting Malacañang’s motion for reconsideration was circulated last week. He said the draft decision on the court’s ruling issued in July was hardly changed.
The draft will be deliberated upon by the court en banc tomorrow (December 2) when it decides on the government’s appeal that the High Court reverse its decision on the DAP.
In July, the SC, through a unanimous vote, declared as illegal Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Circular 541 that created the disbursement program. Of the 14 justices, 13 voted to strike down the program. Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro inhibited herself because one of the petitioners was close to her family.
According to the source, majority of the justices will in all probability maintain their findings and deny the government’s motion for reconsideration.
The source said the high tribunal will decide on the government’s appeal on Tuesday unless the justices postpone the voting.
He noted that the overwhelming decision of the SC on July 1 will be “very hard” to reverse because the tribunal was unanimous in its ruling.
“It is hard to reverse a unanimous vote declaring the DAP as unconstitutional. [It is very unlikely that it would be reversed],” the source told The Manila Times.
The SC only has two more en banc sessions left before it goes on a Christmas break—December 2 and December 9.
Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, who was appointed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd in August this year, will not take part in deliberations because he defended the DAP before the High Court when he was the Solicitor General.
In its ruling, the SC declared the following practices under DAP as unconstitutional: the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the General Appropriation Acts; and the cross-border transfers of the savings of the executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the executive and funding of projects and activities and programs that were not covered by any appropriation in the General Appropriations Act.
The Supreme Court also declared void the use of unprogrammed funds despite the absence of a certification by the National Treasurer that the revenue collections exceeded the revenue targets for non-compliance with conditions provided by the GAA.
Petitions that questioned the legality of the DAP were filed by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; Philippine Constitutional Association; Volunteers Aganst Crime and Corruption; Carol Araullo; Pork Barrel System complainants led by Greco Belgica, Reuben Abante and Jose Gonzales; former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco; and Citizens Crime Watch represented by lawyers Jose Malvar Villegas Jr. and Manuelito R. Luna.