PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd unleashed his latest tirades against the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday as he directly accused the tribunal of committing cross-border fund transfers two years ago similar to the transfer of funds under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Speaking during the 150th birth anniversary of Apolinario Mabini in Batangas province, the President cited two instances in 2012 where the High Court sought the transfer of funds from its savings worth nearly P2 billion to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice and another for the Malolos Hall of Justice.
“In July 2012, the [SC] had savings of P1.865 billion. It was earmarked to augment funds intended for the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice. The fact is, in August that year, they already did their groundbreaking for the new building,” he said.
Aquino noted that the budget for that particular project was placed under the DOJ, which is under the executive branch.
“It is clear: The money of the judiciary [was]allotted for a project that should be undertaken by the executive,” he said.
According to him, this cross-border fund transfer by the SC “bolstered their stand that the DAP was in accordance with the law.”
“The [SC] itself had agreed to a similar mechanism,” the President pointed out.
On another occasion in that same year, the President said, they received a request from the SC that sought the transfer of P100 million from the DOJ for the Manila Hall of Justice “to the budget of the judiciary.”
He added that when the DAP issue became controversial, the High Court withdrew its letter-request.
“They sought the transfer of funds to erect buildings that will house their courts. We saw nothing wrong there because we knew it will hasten the country’s justice system,” Aquino said.
“They withdrew the request in December 2013, when DAP was beginning to take the heat. But it is clear from these examples [their own]attempt to do cross-border transfer, or the allocation of funds from one branch of government to another,” he pointed out.
In its ruling declaring the DAP unconstitutional, the SC said the cross-border fund transfers made under the program were illegal.
Government lawyers have asked the High Court to reconsider its ruling, citing the tribunal’s own DAP-like system in transferring funds and the provisions of the Administrative Code of 1987 that empowers the President to realign savings.
“The truth is we did not hastily decide to implement the DAP. It is neither fiction nor an invention [because]there are laws we used as bases, primarily the Administrative Code of 1987,” Aquino said.
The code was the last measure signed into law by then-President Corazon Aquino before she relinquished her transitional powers to the First Congress in 1987.
Malacañang spokesman Edwin Lacierda earlier said the law was signed on July 25, 1987, or two days before the opening of Congress.
“We believe [the DAP]is in accordance with the Constitution. I’d like to stress that when we began the DAP, there are Sections 38, 39, and 49 of the Administrative Code. What we did was already done by the previous administration. And because it was also done by the [SC], which has the ability and sole mandate to interpret the law, it further strengthened our belief that our actions were right,” the President explained.
He assailed the SC decision on the acceleration program for giving a new and undue meaning to the concept of “good faith.”
“It seemed that the decision of the SC changed the rules and the concept of good faith . . . because of this ruling, every time a decision of our employee is questioned, he should prove that he is innocent . . . The poor [decision maker]would be sued and will be forced to defend himself. How can you work when you have to deal with these cases?” Aquino asked.
Nonetheless, he said the SC will have the “last say” on the matter, adding that he never intended to “defy their decisions.”