What Took Them So Long? SC Declares PDAF Unconstitutional

It looks like it took a political tragedy of enormous proportions to wake some highly schooled people up.

The Supreme Court finally came to its senses after declaring today the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel as unconstitutional, thereby reversing three separate rulings it had issued in the past.

The historic decision, which also invalidated illegal provisions in two laws that authorize the President to use the controversial Malampaya fund and the President’s Social Fund, both known as presidential pork, puts an end to the lawmakers’ practice of illegal diversion and misuse of public money.

“In a decision promulgated today, the court en banc voting 14-0-1…partially granted the three consolidated petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF system). The court speaking through Justice Estella M. Perlas-Bernabe ruled that the pork barrel system is unconstitutional,” SC spokesperson Theodore Te read in a statement.

The high court also ordered the return of all unused pork barrel to government coffers, and urged government prosecutors to investigate and prosecute all persons involved in the pork barrel scam under investigation in the Senate.

The court’s latest pork barrel ruling, which might have been influenced by recent political events, is a complete reversal of its 1994 decision, wherein it said pork barrel “attempts to make equal the unequal”, and it is also a “recognition that individual members of Congress, far more than the President and their congressional colleagues are likely to be knowledgeable about the needs of their respective constituents and the priority to be given each project.”

What took you so long?

What took you so long?

The SC justices also defended the lawmakers’ use of pork barrel in its rulings in 2001 and 2012.

This time, the Court ruled that the entire Pork Barrel System is unconstitutional because the system:

  • “Allowed legislators to wield, in varying gradiations, non-oversight, post-enactment authority in vital areas of budget executions (thus violating) the principle of separation of powers.”
  • “Conferred unto legislators the power of appropriation by giving them personal, discretionary funds by which they are able to fund specific projects  which they themselves determine, thus violating the principle of non-delegability of legislative power.”
  • “Created a system of budgeting wherein items are not textualized into appropriations, thus flouting the prescribed power of presentment, and in the present denying the President the power to veto items.”
  • “Dilutes the effectiveness of congressional oversight by giving legislators a stake in the affairs of budget execution, an aspect of governance which they may be called to monitor and scrutinized, thus impairing public accountability.”
  • “Authorizes legislators, who are national officers, to intervene in affairs of purely local nature, despite the existence of local institutions, thus subverting genuine local autonomy.”
  • “Confers on the President the power to appropriate funds intended by law for energy-related purposes only to other purposes he may deem fit, once more transgresses the principle of non-delegability.”

The Court declared “as unconstitutional:

  1. the entire 2013 PDAF Article;
  2. 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 authorize/d legislators – whether individually or collectively organized into committees – to intervene, assume, or participate in any of the various post-enactment stafes of the budget execution…such as … project identification, modification, fund release or fund realignment, unrelated to the power of congressional oversight;
  3. all legal provisions of past and present Congressional Pork Barrel laws…which conferred personal, lump-sum allocations to legislators from which they are able to fund specific projects which they themselves determine;
  4. all informal practices of similar effect, which the Court similarly deems to be acts of grave abuyse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of discretion; and
  5. the phrases (1) ‘and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President’ under Section 8 of Presidential Decree No 910 and (2) ‘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 power.”

PDAF’s abolition by the Court allegedly prompted B.S. Aquino to fly back to Manila, cutting short his visit to the devastated Tacloban City.

Inquirer.net reports:

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II said Aquino would attend a special meeting in Manila.

Roxas admitted that the urgent departure of the president has something to do with the decision of the Supreme Court that declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as unconstitutional.

According to Roxas, Aquino has not yet read the decision of the high court. “Let us give the President the chance to read first the decision to be able to address concerns properly.”

In a previous blog, I stated that the Philippine Constitution’s remaining Republican principle could save the country from B.S. Aquino’s liberal fascism.

What will save our cash-strapped nation from corruption-riddled pork barrel and delay its march toward Liberal dictatorship?

It will be the last vestiges of our mongrel Republican system. Officially– and according to the 1987 Constitution– the Philippines is a Republican-Democratic state.

One of the original features of Republicanism is the principle of separation of powers. The established political institutions of this principle consists of the triumvirate system of three governmental branches (e.g., the executive, legislative and judiciary), which possess delimited, well-defined powers. Under a system of representative Republic (which is not a Democracy), the powers of these three co-equal branches must be objectively defined and delimited according to the principle of Individual Rights. The purpose of a written Constitution is not to create or invent rights, but to recognize and protect their existence.

… [T]he Judiciary is not only empowered to settle legal disputes; it also has the power to invalidate unconstitutional laws via its Judicial Review authority. Thus, under a truly Republican system, the President cannot turn the legislature into a rubber stamp Congress by bribing its members with public money. The President’s power to bribe– or to abuse taxpayers’ money– in order to control political power constitutes TREASON against the principles of Republicanism.

… The Court’s possible decision to declare the President’s pork barrel in the budget law as unconstitutional may not only affect the ruling party’s programs and political ambitions; it may also ignite a bitter political friction between the SC and the administration.

To save this nation from B.S. Aquino’s creeping political fascism, the Judiciary needs to fight for judicial independence and to keep the last vestiges of our Republican principles.

One thought on “What Took Them So Long? SC Declares PDAF Unconstitutional

  1. Pingback: The Unconstitutional PDAF « OpinYon - The Philippines' first and only weekly opinion paper.

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