THE fight against pork barrel funds does not end with the Supreme Court decision ruling the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) unconstitutional, retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno said on Wednesday.
Puno, the main proponent of a People’s Initiative (PI) campaign to abolish all forms of pork funds, said the battle against the “evil” funds is far from over because there is still the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to deal with.
“The decision is most welcome. The fight against pork, however, is not over. We have to wait if the SC will also strike down the DAP,” Puno told The Manila Times.
He said there is also a need to scrutinize the 2014 general appropriations bill still pending in Congress to avoid the possibility of resurrecting these funds.
“Until then the word is vigilance,” Puno stressed.
Voting 14-0, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declared the entire balance of the 2013 PDAF unconstitutional in a decision penned by Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe.
Malacanang withheld comment on the Supreme Court ruling.
“We have not seen the copy of the decision yet, so we have so far not made any comment.
We’ve asked the Office of the Solicitor General if they have received a copy. By today, they have not yet received a copy, so there’s no way that we can comment,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said during his regular press briefing.
“We don’t even know what action the Solicitor General will take. But if you remember, (Budget) Secretary Butch Abad already mentioned that, assuming it is rendered unconstitutional, it goes back to Treasury,” he said.
Lacierda said Abad will discuss the request for additional funds with President Benigno Aquino 3rd and the leaders of Congress.
“They’re looking at a supplemental budget for that P14 billion that has been rendered unconstitutional,” he said.
With regard to the Malampaya fund, Lacierda said Malacanang’s position is “in sync” with the Court’s ruling.
“The President has not utilized the Malampaya Fund other than [in]energy and energy-related projects,” he said.
Also yesterday, former congressman Augusto Syjuco of Iloilo province reiterated his appeal to the Supreme Court to stop Malacanang from further releasing funds under DAP.
“Last Oct 21, 2013, I filed an Urgent Motion for Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction on the implementation of the DAP. Up to now, my motion remains pending and deferred by the Supreme Court and no TRO was issued in the implementation of the DAP,” he said.
Syjuco asked the Court to admit as evidence the 2011 Annual Report of the Commission on Audit (COA) on the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), one of the respondents in the consolidated petitions against DAP, since the report unearthed alleged irregularities.
He said that during the the oral arguments on the DAP petitions, “no one mentioned the Agency Audit Report on the [DBM] for 2011 conducted by the COA. I now [inform]the Supreme Court that there exists a COA Audit Report on DBM’s discombobulating misuse of DAP for year 2011, and the COA Report dealt extensively with the unexplained irregularities of DBM in the implementation of DAP.”
The Court will again hear oral argument on DAP on December 10.