Gov’t at risk of being swamped with cases with SC’s adverse ruling on PDAF

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The Philippine government will be at risk of being swamped with cases if the Supreme Court would not allow the release of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or the Congressional discretionary allocation which were already obligated or earmarked for certain initiative, a high-ranking official said.

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Assistant Secretary Janet Abuel of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) made the warning considering that the Supreme Court decision declaring PDAF unconstitutional bans the government from paying its existing PDAF-funded obligations which already have obligated Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) but do not have Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) issued by the DBM just yet.

The NCA is released to the particular agency that implements the PDAF-funded initiatives.

“Thru the Office of the Solicitor General, we want to seek clarification from the Supreme Court on those PDAF allocations with obligated SAROs, meaning those PDAF-funded projects already in the bidding stage, or those projects which are already underway, or the goods were already delivered. With obligated SAROs [for PDAF allocations], it means that we should pay these obligations. But the Supreme Court ruling states that PDAF allocations—even in the presence of obligated SAROs—can’t be used to pay these obligations in the absence of the NCA. If we don’t pay, the government could be swamped with cases,” Abuel told the Manila Times in an interview.

The Supreme Court, Abuel said, should enable the DBM to craft guidelines on disbursing the PDAF allocations with obligated SAROs.

“I hope that the Supreme Court clarifies this and rule in favor on what really should be done, which is to recognize our obligation. Otherwise, we will have a lot of payables. What will happen to a patient whose regular treatment in a hospital is charged on PDAF with an obligated SARO? In addition, what about the PDAF-funded infrastructure projects with an obligated SARO and which are already or about to be finished even without an NCA? It would be difficult to take all those obligated payments back. The government will be swamped with cases and so it is in our hope that this is clarified,” Abuel added.

In a separate interview, Rep. Elpidio Barzaga of Dasmariñas conceded the government should better start looking for alternative sources of funding to pay for the PDAF allocations with obligated SAROs or face the wrath of facing a lot of cases.

“We have to pay our obligations and the government should look for ways to pay them,” Barzaga added. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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