THE Supreme Court is likely to stop Malacañang from implementing the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) because some justices are of the belief that it is unconstitutional.
A reliable source on Thursday said that the High Court may issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) after the justices vote on the matter during a special en banc session today.
The source said that a number of justices are for the issuance of a TRO, and that Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has distributed to the justices reading materials that partly tackle the illegality of DAP.
The source said that the justices will surely take Carpio’s position into consideration since he has moral ascendancy over all the SC justices, including Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno, being the most senior magistrate.
“Kapag nagsalita si Tony (Carpio) nakikinig ang lahat, pero kapag si Meilou (Sereno) she is taken lightly by the justices. Eh kasi nga most junior si Meilou,” the source told The Manila Times.
He added that during en banc deliberations, when Carpio speaks, everybody listens.
The source cited the voting by the justices on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, where Sereno opposed the issuance of a TRO. However, majority of the justices were against her, thus the SC issued an order stopping the release of lawmakers’ PDAF this year.
Sereno is an appointee of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
The High Tribunal set the special en banc session to discuss the petition of former Iloilo Representative Augusto Syjuco Jr.
Syjuco and several petitioners sought the urgent issuance of a TRO to stop the government from releasing and disbursing public funds through DAP which they claimed was unconstitutional.
Malacañang said that DAP funds consist of the consolidated savings of various government agencies.
In defending the program, Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said that the President is authorized to realign funds if these came from the savings of government agencies.
She cited Article VI, Section 5, subparagraph 5 of the 1987 Constitution as legal basis for the fund realignment under DAP.
“Section 39 talks about the authority to use savings in appropriations to cover deficits; and Section 49, paragraph 9 which reads, if I may, ‘priority activities that will promote the economic well-being of the nation, including food production, agrarian reform, energy development, disaster relief and rehabilitation,’” Valte said.
The additional pork barrel allocations given to some lawmakers which was revealed by Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada also came from DAP.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago earlier said DAP is illegal since the President has no power to realign the unused appropriation of government agencies.
Syjuco and the other petitioners who questioned the legality of DAP said that the Aquino
government should not be allowed to convert DAP funds into his calamity fund.
The petitioners argued that constitutional doctrines “must remain steadfast no matter what may be the tides of time.”
The High Court will hear oral arguments on DAP on November 19 after it consolidated several petitions questioning the constitutionality of the disbursement program. The petitions filed by the Philippine Constitution Association, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and Maria Carolina Araullo, et al, were consolidated with the petitions of Syjuco and