Supreme Court voids Aquino’s coco levy order

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THE HIGH court has voided four sections of an executive order (EO) by former president Benigno Aquino 3rd on the disbursement of coconut levy funds, ruling that Congress must first pass a law before the money is spent.

In a 21-page decision written by Justice Jose Catral Mendoza and promulgated on August 8, 2017, the court en banc ruled that President Aquino “went beyond the authority delegated by law in the disbursement of the coconut levy funds.”

“The provisions of Presidential Decree 1468 (Revised Coconut Industry Code) are simply too broad to limit the amount of spending that may be done by the implementing authority. Considering that no statute provides for specific parameters on how the SAGF [Special Accounts in the General Fund] may be spent, Congress must first provide a law for the disbursement of the funds, in line with its constitutional authority. The absence of the requisite legislative authority in the disbursement of public funds cannot be remedied by executive fiat.”

The court pointed out that it had earlier declared the coco levy funds as public funds.

Named respondents aside from Aquino were Presidential Commission on Good Government Acting Commissioner Richard Roger Amurao, Governance Commission for GOCCs Chairman Cesar Villanueva, and former Justice secretary and now Sen. Leila de Lima.

The court voided the following sections of EO 180 pertaining to the approval of a disbursement roadmap, the funding source, utilization of funds and the reconveyance and utilization of coconut levy assets for coconut farmers and the development of the coconut industry.

The high court also lifted the temporary restraining order it issued on June 30, 2015.

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