MANILA – The clash between the Supreme Court and President Benigno Aquino III over the legality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) will not lead to a constitutional crisis, said retired Sandiganbayan Justice Rodolfo Palattao.
Instead, Palattao believes the conflict between the two branches of the government will strengthen the country's democratic institutions.
"No, it is not a crisis. To me this is normal. It will make this country stronger and greater. It will add more to the strength of our democratic institutions. We have developed institutional safeguards already," he said in an interview on ANC Primetime Monday.
Palattao also said he believes the President meant no disrespect to the Supreme Court when he delivered a speech defending the DAP. He believes Aquino was just carried away by his emotions.
"There are appropriations [under the DAP] which appears to have been given already to the agencies that are supposed to implement the projects, but have to be suspended because of we cannot apply the 'good faith' so the projects have to be frozen. And that's what the President is trying to tell the Supreme Court," he explained.
NO WEAKENING OF INSTITUTIONS
He noted that Aquino's plan to file a motion for reconsideration just means he is respecting the Supreme Court's interpretation of the case.
"To me, there is no disrespect because the President [plans to file] a motion of reconsideration. That's an indication that he is following the process," he said. "It should be interpreted as a sign that the President is giving the Supreme Court the respect in so far as interpretation of constitution is concerned."
And even if the Supreme Court reverses its own decision, Palattao said it won't weaken Philippine institutions.
He said the high court is "notorious" for reversing itself.
"As a matter of fact the Supreme Court is notorious in reversing itself on matters that are considered vital, like creation of cities. They have reversed themselves so many times," he said.
IMPEACHING PNOY REMOTE
Meanwhile, Palattao believes that if the Supreme Court stickS to its original DAP ruling, it will add weight to the impeachment complaints filed against Aquino.
However, he said the chance of successfully impeaching Aquino is "very remote."
"There are provisions in the administrative code which appears to have a legal basis for the President to do what he has done… 'Good' faith can be defense here," he said.
On the other hand, Palattao expressed concerned over the moves to junk control and discretion of the Supreme Court over Judiciary Development Fund (JDF).
The former Sandiganbayan justice said he sympathizes with court employees who will be directly affected if these moves succeed.
The bills seeking to scrap the high court's control over the JDF was filed by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas, Jr. and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, both allies of President Aquino.
"This judiciary fund, actually, I enjoyed that…That's why I sympathize with them. If that is controlled or transferred to GAA (General Appropriations Act) fund, it's going to be a problem in the judiciary. Most lawyers don't join the judiciary because they make more [money] in private practice," he said.—ANC Primetime, July 21, 2014