No TRO yet on plea to strike down lump sum in 2014 budget

by Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Jan 21 2014 03:14 PM | Updated as of Jan 21 2014 11:14 PM

MANILA - The Supreme Court has not issued a halt order on four items in the 2014 national budget believed to be lump sum funds.

A high court source said justices merely asked the respondents to comment on the petition of former Manila councilor Greco Belgica.

Belgica earlier said the Unprogrammed Fund, E-Government Fund, Contingent Fund and Local Government Support Fund are similar to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). The latter has been declared unconstitutional by the SC.

The four lump-sum items amount to P143.78 billion or 8.94 percent of the P2.265-trillion 2014 budget.

“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 Department of Budget is now in control of the purse, particularly with regard to the lump sum items,” Belgica said in his petition.

The high court will also hear from oral arguments the legality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which some also claim to be a presidential discretionary fund.

The high court decided to push through with the oral arguments on January 28 for the Legislative branch’s defense, and February 18 for the Executive.