MANILA - President Benigno Aquino III is turning the tables on the Supreme Court, saying the tribunal also juggled its own funds by funding the construction of a justice hall under the Department of Justice.
In a speech during the celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Apolinario Mabini in Batangas, Aquino again criticized the Supreme Court over its decision declaring parts of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional.
Aquino said that in past, the SC also exercised actions in its budget which are of similar nature to acts under the DAP.
''At dahil ginawa ito ng Korte Suprema na siyang may kakayahan at may tanging mandato na magbigay ng interpretasyon ng batas, lalong tumibay ang paniniwala natin na tama ang ating mga kilos,'' he said.
The DAP, which allowed the realignment of funds in the middle of the fiscal year and cross-border fund augmentation between the branches of government, was earlier declared as unconstitutional by the SC.
To prove his point, Aquino cited as example SC's move in July 2012 to use a part of its P1.865 billion savings for the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice, the groundbreaking of which took place a month later.
Aquino said the budget for the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice was with the Department of Justice (DOJ), which is under the executive department.
''Malinaw po, ang pera ng hudikatura, inilaan nila para sa proyektong ehekutibo dapat ang gumagawa,'' he said.
The President said the SC later asked the Department of Budget and Management to use the P100 million DOJ budget meant for the Manila Hall of Justice project for the construction of the Malabon Hall of Justice.
Aquino noted that the SC took back its request sometime in December last year when the DAP issue broke out.
The President said these arguments were laid down in the motion for reconsideration that the Palace, through the Office of the Solicitor General, filed before the SC.
Aquino said he sees nothing wrong with the cross-border fund transfers of SC, especially since they were meant to improve the country's justice system.
He, however, noted that in striking the DAP as unconstitutional, the SC is employing a double standard.
Aquino said his government created the DAP with the intention of expediting the delivery of government services, removing funds from slow-moving projects, and spurring economic growth.
He said prior to the SC ruling, his administration presumed that the DAP was legal since previous administrations, aside from the high court, supposedly did similar maneuvering of funds.
He again cited the Administrative Code of 1987 as the legal basis for the creation of the DAP, even as critics of the program argued that this code is superseded by the Constitution.
Under the code, ''any savings in the regular appropriations in the General Appropriations Act for programs and projects of any department, office or agency, may, with the approval of the President, be used to cover a deficit in any other item of the regular appropriations."
The code also states that ''the President is authorized to suspend or otherwise stop further expenditure of funds allotted for any agency, or any expenditure authorized in the General Appropriations Act.''
Aquino cited the scholarship program of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the Disaster Risk Assessment, Exposure and Mitigation-Light Ranging and Detection Technology (DREAM-LiDAR) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as among the positive results of the DAP.
Aquino, who is now facing two impeachment complaints over the DAP, said the DAP authors should not be deemed to have acted in bad faith since they did not know then that the acts under the program would later be deemed unconstitutional.
''Kahit pa ipawalang-bisa sa hinaharap ang batas na iyong pinagbatayan, hindi pwedeng sabihin sa darating na araw kung kailan pinawalang bisa ang batas ay kumilos ka na in bad faith,'' he said.
''Tila binabago ng desisyon na ito ng Korte Suprema ang patakaran at pagkakaunawang ito ng good faith."
Aquino said the SC decision, if not reversed, may set a bad precedent for the executive branch.
''Maghuhulaan pa ang ating mga kawani kung bukas makalawa ituturing na palang mali ang tamang ginawa nila; mag-aalinlangang mag-desisyon ang ehekutibo at babagal ang paghatid ng benepisyo sa mamamayan,'' he said.
''Dito nanggagaling ang sinasabi nating chilling effect sa gobyerno ng desisyong ito ng SC."