First of three parts
A lot has been said about the ruling of the Supreme Court on the Disbursement Acceleraton Program or DAP. Some have not even read the total 274 pages of decision, including the concurring and dissenting opinions of the Justices and yet comments area readily made. Some read it to directly refute it as two journalists have proudly proclaimed eureka moments that they have found a way for the administration to defend itself. Defend? Really or should it be the other way around? Release the list and the beneficiaries of DAP and be accountable? Was not Tuwid na Daan principally about accountability and transparency?
The only thing they missed out was DAP is all about trust. When trust is gone it would be hard to govern and manage. When trust is eroded, every act is suspect.
Former or the late President Cory Aquino, even under the Revolutionary Constitution, never thought of a similar program like DAP when she could very well do so under such a constitution. The Reserve Control Account (RCA) is not DAP as claimed by some quarters. RCA is line item while DAP is nowhere in the budget whether in 2011, 2012 or 2013.
The Supreme Court decision was unanimous with a vote of 13. Some choose to immediately find fault in the decision offering all sorts of air twisting propositions. Some would come up with generalizations totally independent of the decision. Please read what the Court is saying because the ponente made sure that even the major evidence were placed within the decision. The ponente was so meticulous that even the General Provisions and Special Provisions of three (3) GAAs were included in the text of the decision and pointed out the lies of defenders of the Executive Branch.
Fact is the defense of the Executive Branch was really so bad they kept covering ground after ground; stonewalling at its best.
Another fact is the General Appropriations Act (GAA) is a law. It is the most important law that comes out of Congress on an annual basis The Executive implements, Congress enacts and the Supreme Court interprets. Clearly, Congress was a party to DAP via the amendments on the General and Special Provisions of the GAA. Justice Bersamin made sure by pointing to provisions that were the same for two years and then changed by 2013.
The fifth fact is that BSA3 was a 12-year legislator (1998, 2001, 2004 and 2007), he was a Representative for nine years (1998, 2001, 2004) and a Senator for three years (2007). He knows the authorization and appropriations process because he was a member of the Appropriations Committee. He knew and used pork. In fact, he was Deputy Speaker for Luzon in 2004. He relinquished said position when he joined the Liberal Party in calling for the resignation of GMA in 2006.
The sixth fact, as rightfully pointed out by Justice Arturo D. Biron: “The exchange, to my mind, negates any claim by the respondent DBM Secretary that he did not know the legal implications of what he was doing. As a lawyer and with at least 12 years of experience behind him as a congressman who was even the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, it is inconceivable that he did not know the illegality or unconstitutionality that tainted his brainchild. Consider, too, in this regard that all appropriation, revenue and tariff bills emanate from the Lower House so that the Chair of the Appropriations Committee cannot but be very knowledgeable about the budget, its processes and technicalities. In fact, the Secretary likewise knows budgeting from the other end, i.e., from the user end as the DBM Secretary.”
The seventh fact that is vital to this issue is the principle of public office is a public trust (Article XI, Section 1 of the Constitution). It should be noted that betrayal of public trust is one of the five impeachable offenses provided under the 1987 Constitution, which was not present in the 1935 and 1973 constitutions.
A stimulus package, not
DAP is not a stimulus package as claimed. The theory behind fiscal stimulus depends on three basic factors. In practice it is difficult to have more than two of these met at any one time: 1) provide stimulus through use of idle resources; 2) it should be started quickly and 3) it should perform reasonably well in a cost-benefit test.
In the first place, the slowdown in 2011 was caused by under spending by the same people who put together DAP. There was no recession. There was a slowdown and they knew what caused the slowdown. Act fast; it will stop the slide, right?
To be continued
(This 3,280-word article by Ms. Tiquia will be continued on Tuesday July 22 and concluded on Tuesday July 29.)