When President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd admitted in mid-August that he was open to a second term in office, the main reason that he gave was very alarming. The vindictive P-Noy wants to check the powers of the Judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court that had ruled unanimously on the unconstitutionality of both the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the despicable Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)
The puerile president claims that the Judiciary appears to be using its powers of judicial review to check on the Executive and Legislative branches without restraint. Mr. Aquino spoke of “judicial reach” wherein both “Congress and the Executive may act, but they can be punished anytime.” What a pathetic justification for a second term!
As I wrote in my column of August 16, 2014 (“Sheer Hypocrisy of President B. S. Aquino 3rd”), Mr. Aquino can amend the Constitution to correct the powers of the Judiciary without any term extension. The Chief Executive can do it in the next 16 months beginning September 2014 to December 2015. There is more than enough time to do it.
Thus, there is really no need for PNoy to seek a second term as President of the Philippines just to check the powers of the Supreme Court. However, due to his childish character of exacting vengeance, PNoy wants to get back at the High Tribunal.
President B. S. Aquino 3rd had used the PDAF pork barrel to control the members of Congress. The pork barrel funds would have reached P25 billion in the 2014 national budget if it were not declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in November last year.
More than two months ago in early July, President B. S. Aquino 3rd had already threatened the Judiciary of a “collision” in his response aired on national television and radio to the DAP decision being unconstitutional. Thus, a strategy to intimidate the Supreme Court. As if on cue, Aquino’s allies in the House of Representatives called for the abolition of and the sudden hearing to review the Judicial Development Fund (JDF).
DBM slashed P12B from 2015 Judiciary Budget
After the ruling on July 1, 2014 that the DAP is “unconstitutional,” President Aquino attacked the High Tribunal three times in a short span of ten days. The first time was on July 14 when he foolishly threatened the justices and urged them to change their mind. Less than 24 hours later the next day, the childish Chief Executive excoriated the Supreme Court decision on the DAP during the visit of the World Bank president.
In retaliation, the Department of Budget & Management (DBM) slashed P12 billion from the original proposed budget of P32.6 billion for the Judiciary and only submitted P20.3 billion to the House of Representatives. The Supreme Court and lower courts shall get P18.1 billion, while the Sandiganbayan, the Court of Appeals and the Court of Tax Appeals will receive a total of P2.13 billion
Thus, the Judiciary would most likely only receive P20.0 billion for 2015. This is only about 10% of the 2014 budget of the DPWH, which is over P200 billion. The P20.0 billion is also LESS than 1.0 % of the P2.6 Trillion 2015 National Budget. The Supreme Court had asked the House Appropriations Committee to retain and approve its proposed P32.6 billion budget instead of the P20.3 billion the DBM sought on its behalf.
Supreme Court Deputy Administrator Raul Villanueva, who attended the House Committee hearing last August, pointed out that the increase in the Judiciary Budget over the past five years (2011-2015) is “lower than the increase in the national budget (General Appropriations Act or GAA) for each other.” (Inquirer, August 15, 2014)
Villanueva continued that “as a result thereof, the declining appropriation to the judiciary’s budget resulted in a share of only 0.78 percent in the national budget, one of the lowest in recent years.” He stressed the High Tribunal’s original proposed budget of P32.6 billion would have represented a 1.25 percent share in the national budget.
What the Executive Branch has done – particularly the Office of the President (OP) in Malacañang – through the DBM headed by the chief architect of the diabolic DAP, weakens the Judiciary by depriving it of the wherewithal to perform its mandate as a co-equal branch of government.
Proposed budget for Judiciary and Justice system
The P32.6-billion budget for the Judiciary is actually a relatively small sum compared to the proposed 2015 budget of P2.6-trillion. What the Judiciary needs is at least P40.0 billion per annum to strengthen the rule of law in the land: P35.0 billion for the regular budgets, while another P5.0 billion each year can be spent for better infrastructure in their buildings—courts and offices, computers and equipment, and motor vehicles.
Out of the suggested P35.0-billion budget, P30.0 billion is for the Supreme Court and lower Courts, while the P5.0 billion is for the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, and the Court of Tax Appeals.
Other than the Judiciary, it is important to strengthen the Justice System. The Department of Justice (DOJ), particularly the National Prosecution Service (NPS) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), should get an additional budget of P 2.0 billion on top of its regular budget.
Likewise, the Criminal Investigation & Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) should receive an extra P1.0 billion. No less than a former CIDG chief early this year said that the PNP is “not effective” against criminality.
Lastly, the Office of the Ombudsman should receive an extra P1.0 billion to enhance its capabilities. Their current budget of only P1.7 billion is a measly amount compared to its tremendous mandate enshrined in the Constitution of fighting not only corruption but also inefficiency in the delivery of public services by the government.
Unless and until the Judiciary and the government institutions engaged in investigation and prosecution are given the necessary resources, then the status quo will continue and there is no hope for our country and people.