While The Times, thanks to our Senior Reporter Jomar Canlas, scooped all the other papers about the High Court deciding the DAP to be unconstitutional and illegal, the media that have been serving as cheering squads of the Aquino administration and the Liberal Party’s ruling coalition have tried to downplay the gravity of the decision. They have mostly stressed that, as the Court spokesman said, the justices have only “partially” granted the petitioners’ plea.
But the honorable Theodore Te did also say that the Supreme Court justices granted the “meat” of the nine petitions.
The SC justices have declared that the way Secretary Florencio Abad assembled DAP money—this total more than P157 billion—and President Benigno S. Aquino’s use of it for projects other than what Congress originally allocated the monies for were illegal and unconstitutional acts.
Let’s listen to Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who said in a statement: “It’s basically a no-brainer. The DAP is illegal because it was not contained in the 2011 or 2012 budgets, and because the alleged savings were used to augment new budget items which was not previously authorized by Congress …” She summed up what the SC justices said, that fund transfers are only allowed if there are savings from a completed project. But there are no savings to be transferred or re-aligned if funds are available because a project was deferred or its implementation was halted.
She said: “The first issue is that the DAP was not taken from savings. The second issue is that the DAP was not used to augment items in the budget that were previously authorized by Congress. The alleged savings were used to augment new budget items not previously authorized by Congress.”
The DAP money came from so-called slow-moving projects. In this case, Budget Secretary Abad shouldn’t have juggled the budget himself but the Palace should have sought the approval of Congress to make the new allocations. For under the Constitution, it is Congress alone that has “the power of the purse.”
By doing what the President and the Secretary did, the Palace was, Senator Defensor-Santiago said, “in effect, chipping away at the legislative power of the purse by fiddling with the budget.”
We have seen the Budget Secretary, and perhaps the President himself, ruled by the High Court to have committed or abetted wrongdoings when they participated in using the PDAF/pork barrel funds in the despicable way they were used by Madam Janet Lim Napoles and her associates, including socialite Ruby Tuason, in connivance with congressmen and senators. They have also refused to heed the request of the Commission on Audit to look at the papers covering the bulk—up to P220 billion—of the rest of the pork barrel funds used by allies of the President.
And now the justices have declared the DAP P157 billion, which only Sec. Abad and the President used, after they invented it, illegal and unconstitutional.
Some congressmen critical of the Aquino regime are now working on impeachment documents. They will of course not succeed—not even reach first base. For the President and the House under Speaker Feliciano Belmonte have solid control of the overwhelming majority of the people’s elected representatives.
It makes one wish we were a country in old Europe.
There, a miscreant government official—even a prime minister dear to the reigning monarch—would be handed a gleaming pistol in a velvet lined case.