The House of Representatives will not appeal the unanimous Supreme Court decision declaring the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) unconstitutional.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. made the disclosure a few hours after the 14 justices of the Court voted against the legality of the PDAF, or the congressional discretionary fund.
“We won’t appeal this [Supreme Court decision]. This was made based on the clause on separation of powers, not on whether the fund is lump sum or not. We [lawmakers]are only prohibited from taking part [in projects]post-enactment of the budget. As for pre-enactment, it is still our territory. We will still make the decision,” Belmonte told reporters Tuesday.
Before PDAF’s legality was questioned before the Supreme Court this year, each member of the House was entitled to a P70 million PDAF every year. Of the amount, P40 million is for hard projects such as roads, bridges and classrooms, and the balance for soft projects such as financial assistance for educational, health and medical needs.
Belmonte said the Supreme Court ruling won’t be enough to undermine the House.
“It has been clear that majority of lawmakers have used this fund to help our districts, and I am confident that we will survive without it. Actually, it strengthens us as a lawmaking body,” he said.
The Supreme Court decision transfers the remaining P12 billion PDAF in the P2-trillion budget for 2013 to the National Treasury, meaning Congress can still appropriate it for certain purposes.
“Our resolution which realigned the 2013 PDAF to the Calamity Fund virtually obeys this decision [of the Supreme Court],” Belmonte added, referring to House Resolution 7 which was adopted a day after the Court issued its ruling.
LLANESCA T. PANTI