THE Supreme Court (SC) en banc has hammered the final nail on the coffin to officially declare the death of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
The PDAF being declared unconstitutional has become “final and executory,” according to a copy of a three-page entry of judgment obtained by The Manila Times.
The document, signed by Corazon delos Reyes, deputy Clerk of Court and chief of the Judicial Records Office, was subsequently recorded in the Book of Entries of Judgment.
The PDAF case ruling of the High Court on November 19, 2013 is now part of the Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA) under the case Pedrito M. Nepomuceno vs. President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino 3rd ad Secretary Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget and Management.
Petitioners in the case included lawyer Samson Alcantara of the Social Justice Society, former Manila Councilor Greco Belgica and former congressman Augusto Syjuco.
The declaration has become final and executory since no motion for reconsideration of the November 19, 2013 ruling handed down by Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe was filed by Malacanang.
An SC source said no appeal was made by the Palace in order to save the presidential pork that was said to be funds under the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP.
“The court hereby directs all prosecutorial organs of government to, within the bounds of reasonable dispatch, investigate and accordingly prosecute all government officials and/or private individuals for possible criminal offenses related to the irregular, improper and/or unlawful disbursement/utilization of all funds under the pork barrel system,” the tribunal said.
The justices voted 14-0, with one inhibition made by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco since his wife, Lorna Velasco, was a party-list member of the House of Representatives and his son Lord Allan Velasco was a former representative of Marinduque province.
The SC en banc also declared unconstitutional:
“All legal provisions of past and present congressional pork barrel laws such as the previous PDAF and CDF (Countrywide Development Fund, later called PDAF) articles and various congressional insertions, which authorize/d legislators–whether individually or collectively organized into committees–to intervene, assume or participate in any of the various post-enactment stages of the budget execution, such as but not limited to the areas of project identification, modification and revision of project identification, fund release and /or fund realignment, unrelated to the power of congressional oversight;
“All legal provisions of past and present congressional pork barrel laws, such as the previous PDAF and CDF articles and the various congressional insertions, which confer/red personal, lump-sum allocations to legislators from which they are able to fund specific projects which they themselves determine;
“All informal practices of similar import and effect, which the court similarly deems to be acts of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of discretions; and
“The phrases “and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the president under (Section) 8 of PD (Presidential Decree) 910 to finance the priority infrastructure (development) projects under (Section) 12 of PD 1869 as amended by PD 1993 , for both failing the sufficient standard test in violation of the principle of non-delegability of legislative powers.”
The 15-man tribunal has made permanent the temporary restraining order (TRO) it earlier issued against PDAF.
“Accordingly, the court’s temporary injunction dated September 10, 2013 is hereby declared to be permanent.”
“Thus, the disbursements/release of remaining PDAF funds allocated for year 2013, as well as for all previous years and the Malampaya funds under the phrase ‘And for such other purposes as may hereby directed by the (P)resident’ pursuant to Section 8 of PD 910 which are, at the time of this decision is promulgated, not covered by Notice of Cash Allocation but only by Special Allotment Release Orders, whether obligated or not, are hereby enjoined.”
In addition, the SC en banc “also enjoins the release of funds sourced from the Presidential Social Fund under the phrase ‘to finance the priority infrastructure development projects pursuant to Section 12 PD 1869 as amended by PD 1993.’ Said funds covered by this permanent injunction shall not be disbursed/released but instead returned to the general coffers of government except for the funds covered by the Malampaya funds and the Presidential Social Fund (that) shall remain therein to be utilized for their respective special purposes not otherwise declared unconstitutional.”
Meanwhile, the court junked a plea of the petitioners to summon the Commission on Audit, Malacanang, and Congress on the book of accounts pertaining to PDAF since it can be done via separate petition for mandamus or it can be obtained directly from the respective government agencies.