SC urged: Stop all lump sum funds in 2014 budget
MANILA - After the Supreme Court's (SC) historic ruling striking down the Priority Development Assistance Funds(PDAF) or "pork barrel" funds of lawmakers as unconstitutional, a petitioner is now asking the SC to declare as unconstitutional "lump sum discretionary funds" in the P2.265 trillion 2014 budget.
Greco Antonious Belgica filed a 21-page petition with the high court on Monday, that seeks the immediate issuance of a status quo ante order (SQAO) to prevent the disbursement of "lump sum discretionary funds," which includes Unprogrammed Funds, Contingent Fund, E-Government Fund, and Local Government Support Fund, in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2014.
Belgica is one of the petitioners who earlier asked the SC to declare the PDAF as unconstitutional.
He said that barely three months ago, the SC struck down lump sum discretionary funds in its ruling on the PDAF petitions.
"Unfortunately, despite the unanimous ruling in the Belgica Case, Congress and the President chose to ignore the Honorable Court's warnings by passing a 2014 GAA that is filled with unconstitutional lump sum discretionary fund items such as: (a) Unprogrammed Fund (P139,903,759,000); (b) the E-Government Fund (P2,478,900,000); (c) Contingent Fund (1,000,000,000); and (d) Local Government Support Fund (P405,000,000), with more equally invalid items dispersed within the individual departments' budgets."
"The 2014 GAA is proof that the two political branches have decided to ignore the Supreme Court. It is a budget that is full of lump sums that let discretion run riot!" the petition read.
Belgica pointed out that lump sum discretionary funds in the 2014 budget are unconstitutional because it "violates the very essence and purpose of separation of powers i.e., checks and balances because the legislative branch is at the mercy of the President in terms of fund allocation covered by the said items."
Belgica stressed that this makes Congress "subservient" to the President.
"While in concept, Congress has the power of the purse, the reality now under the 2014 GAA is that the Chief Executive, through the Offices of the Executive Secretary and the Dept of Budget and Management, is now in control of the purse particularly with regard to the lump sum items," the petition read.
"UNDUE ADVANTAGE TO THE MEMBERS OF THE RULING PARTY"
Belgica alleged that the lump sum items in the GAA 2014 may be used by the President to pour in projects to ally local governments, at the expense of those who truly need the assistance.
"[T]he 2014 GAA on lump sum items all the more strengthens the power of the Chief Executive over the local government because priorities on assistance and budget allocations for the said lump sum items may not necessarily be based on the urgency and priority needs of a particular local government but on how close the local government leader is to the powers that be.
"In the final analysis, the lump sum items tend to give undue advantage to the members of the ruling party as allies of the Chief Executiveand is therefore anathema to the democratic process," the petition read.
Belgica stressed that a GAA must be composed of detailed and specific appropriations, not "general, broadly-phased purposes."