A PRESIDENTIAL DECREE issued by former President Ferdinand Marcos in 1977 allows the Chief Executive to impound the budget and stop any expenditure authorized by the General Appropriations Act (GAA), according to Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.
Believing that provisions of the old law render Congress’ power of the purse “inutile,” Rodriguez said three provisions of Presidential Decree (PD) 1177 should be removed because these are “vestiges of a martial law regime.”
Marcos declared martial law in 1972 and lifted it in the early 1980s.
Rodriguez and his brother, Rep. Maximo Rodriguez of Abante Mindanao party-list, are pushing for the passage of House Bill (HB) 4065, which seeks to delete and repeal Sections 31, 43 and 44 of PD 1177.
“These sections have rendered the so-called power of the purse lodged with Congress inutile and illusory,” the lawmakers said.
PD 1177 or the Budget Reform Decree was issued during martial law and prescribed the form, content and manner of preparing the budget.
Section 31 provided for automatic appropriations, Section 43 authorized the then-incumbent President to stop expenditures of appropriations and Section 44 authorized him to approve fund transfers.
“[T]hese sections have no place in a democracy where the rule of law and the principle of three co-equal branches of government prevail,” the Rodriguezes said.
“It is long overdue that we give Congress what rightfully belongs to it under the Constitution. The executive, after all, has that veto power to object to any particular item of the budget, subject, of course, to the power of Congress, with two-thirds vote, to override such veto,” the lawmakers added.
The House Committee on Appropriations has referred HB 4065 to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and other stakeholders for their comments and inputs before the panel makes its final action on the bill after Congress opens its second regular session on July 28.
The Rodriguez brothers said the early approval of the bill will “restore constitutional balance between the executive and the legislative.”
In HB 4065’s explanatory note, the two lawmakers said Section 31 provided for the automatic appropriation of funds for personnel retirement premiums, government service insurance and similar fixed expenditures; principal and interest on public debt and; national government guarantees of obligations.
Section 43 provided the then-incumbent President with authority to suspend, impound and stop any expenditures or appropriation authorized by the General Appropriations Act (GAA), they explained.
Section 44 allowed the then-President to prevail over the Batasang Pambansa by giving him authority to transfer any fund as approved by the Batasan from any department, bureau or office to another department, bureau or office.
In 1987, the Supreme Court (SC) struck down Section 44 of PD 1177 as unconstitutional, ruling that it “unduly over-extends the privilege granted under said Section 16 [of the old Constitution].”
Its first paragraph provided, “The President shall have the authority to transfer any fund, appropriated for the different departments, bureaus, offices and agencies of the executive department, which are included in the General Appropriations Act, to any program, project or activity of any department, bureau or office included in the General Appropriations Act or approved after its enactment.“
The SC said, “It empowers the President to indiscriminately transfer funds from one department, bureau, office or agency of the executive department to any program, project or activity of any department, bureau or office included in the General Appropriations Act or approved after its enactment, without regard as to whether or not the funds to be transferred are actually savings in the item from which the same are to be taken, or whether or not the transfer is for the purpose of augmenting the item to which said transfer is to be made.”
“It does not only completely disregard the standards set in the fundamental law, thereby amounting to an undue delegation of legislative powers, but likewise goes beyond the tenor thereof. Indeed, such constitutional infirmities render the provision in question null and void,” the court added.