'Prospective in effect' in SC ruling on PDAF explained

by Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Nov 19 2013 06:03 PM | Updated as of Nov 20 2013 02:03 AM

MANILA - The Supreme Court did not mince words in ordering prosecutorial agencies to investigate both public officials and private individuals involved in the plunder of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.

In its decision Tuesday that unanimously declared unconstitutional the PDAF, the high court directed "all prosecutorial organs of the government to, within the bounds of reasonable dispatch, investigate and accordingly prosecute all government officials and/or private individuals for possible criminal offenses related to the improper and/or unlawful disbursement/utilization of all funds under the pork barrel system.”

This is significant amid the ongoing investigation into the alleged plunder of funds perpetrated supposedly by pork scam queen Janet Napoles Lim with some legislators.

In a press conference announcing the ruling, SC spokesperson Theodore Te said: “The decision is immediately executory but prospective in effect.”

By prospective, he explained: “It takes effect now but affects only acts after the decision. [It’s the] operative facts doctrine. It does not void or undo all acts done before the law was struck down.”

It also means that acts done before the declaration of the high court are valid.

ARE PREVIOUS WRONGDOING COVERED?

Analysts explained there should be no confusion in the decision when it comes to running after those who misused the PDAF even prior to the SC ruling.

Indeed, the “directive to look into prosecution would refer to those who may have abused in the past,” one legal pundit said.

Another explained that the “prospective” nature of the decision covers the future acts of public officials insofar as aligning or using lump sums.

The analyst said this does not absolve criminal acts in the past, such as pocketing of the PDAF.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed plunder and malversation raps against senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and other individuals allegedly involved in the pork scam.

The Ombudsman can now also proceed with the preliminary investigation into the matter.

Field investigators of the Office of the Ombudsman have filed three separate complaints for plunder and graft raps against the senators yesterday.

The complaints will then be assigned to a special panel of investigators also under the Ombudsman for preliminary investigation.

The complaints of the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office (FIO) will be consolidated with the complaints filed by the DOJ against the same individuals back in September.

The FIO was tasked in July when Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales motu propio decided to initiate a fact-finding investigation sans a formal complaint. Several teams were actually created to expedite the probe.