Third of four parts
Under the 2013 Budget Message, The Executive asked for P2.006-trillion National Budget, consisting of P1.251 trillion for Programmed New Appropriations and P117.5 billion for the Unprogrammed Fund.
This proposed Budget was 10.5 percent higher than 2012’s budget of P1.816 trillion. The so-called reforms launched were: 1) General Appropriations Act (GAA) serves as the release document; 2) the shift to one-year validity of all appropriations; and 3) putting together the Bottom-Up Budgeting (another lump sum).
This Administration continued to disaggregate lump-sum funds under the budgets of departments and agencies. “We have seen how such bulk funds have become prone to abuse, causing bottlenecks as well during budget execution. This is why, in crafting the 2012 Budget, we disaggregated around P150.5 billion of agency lump-sum funds and specified exactly where they were going.”
Further, the message said “we required all departments and agencies to break down their remaining lump-sum funds into detailed programs, except for items that must be lump-sum by nature, like the Calamity Funds and the Quick Response Funds of certain agencies.”
Why did I go through the various Budget Messages? Because I wanted to give context in reviewing the PDAF cases and DAP. After all, PDAF was a pillbox thrown to few and selected legislators while DAP was the reverse. The Supreme Court caught the Executive juggling funds.
Time and time again I have often said that the clearing operations courtesy of a lady named Jenny had a proximate cause and that cause has been the Corona impeachment. Now, it looks like such act will haunt this Administration until June 30, 2016 and in the process kick the butts of the former presiding officer of the impeachment court, the tutored Second and the Chief of Staff who knew a lot. As to the gentleman from Cavite, that is more local and 2016.
“Akala ko ho tama, yan ang kalakaran.” These were the words uttered by the big time rice smuggler whom enforcement agents of the government knew only by name. Transpose such words into the 16th Congress and it appears, only the freshmen or first time in office are clean. “Sampolan ang tatlo,” became the battlecry of Tuwid na Daan. Then everything caved in with a unanimous verdict from the Sereno Court, DAP was declared unconstitutional.
The DAP decision points a conscientious individual to several possible routes to seek accountability. The Bersamin ponente likewise provided within the decision the important documents submitted by the Executive Branch. Quite interesting is the fact that Justice Bersamin hit several homeruns, putting to shame Congress and the Executive. Justice Carpio too: “Unprogrammed Fund was released despite the clear requirement in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 GAAs that the Unprogrammed Fund can be used only if the revenue collections exceed the original revenue targets as certified by the National Treasurer, a condition that was never met for fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013.” Justice Bernabe on augmentation, “DAP should not entirely be taken as augmentations. This is because the ‘withdrawal of allotments’ and ‘pooling of funds’ by the Executive Department for realignment (in case of suspension under Section 38 infra) and/or simple utilization for projects without sufficient funding due to fiscal deficits (in case of stoppage under Section 38 infra) is not ‘augmentation’ in the constitutional sense of the word.”
Justice del Castillo likewise elucidated on the next steps: “the remedy resides in the people: to press for needed reforms in the laws that currently govern the enactment and execution of the national budget and to be vigilant in the prosecution of those who may have fraudulently abused or misused public funds. In fine, I am of the considered view that the abuse or misuse of the power to augment will persist if the needed reforms in the subject laws are not promptly instituted.” This is where Congress can find its redemption if and only if they rise to the occasion and defend their power of the purse.
Justice Leonen, went one step further by ordering that “The evidence packets submitted by respondents should also be transmitted to the Commission on Audit for their appropriate action.”
Justice Brion clearly laid out the hows of the decision: “to be very clear about our positions, we can only apply the operative fact doctrine to the programs, projects and works that can no longer he undone and where the beneficiaries relied in good faith on the validity of the DAP.
“The authors, proponents and implementors of DAP are not among those who can seek coverage under the doctrine; their link to the DAP was merely to establish and implement the terms that we now find unconstitutional. The matter of their good faith in the performance of duty (or its absence) and their liability therefor, if any, can be made onlv by the proper tribunals, not by this Court in the present case.”
To be continued
[This is the end of the third part of a four part series. The first part appeared on July 15, the second part on July 22. The fourth and final part will come out on August 4.