MANILA - A senatorial candidate in the May 2013 elections is asking the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the government's disbursement acceleration program.
In a 26-page petition before the High Court, former councilor and losing senatorial bet Grego Belgica said the DAP funds released to lawmakers violated Section 25, Article 6 of the Constitution, which prohibits any transfer of appropriations from the Executive branch to the Legislative branch.
Belgica said the DAP is another prime example of how the President is given unbridled discretion in deciding how the Malampaya funds and presidential social funds are disbursed.
"The DAP directly violates this constitutional prohibition. The transfer of the DAP funds from the executive branch to the legislative branch is simply a prohibited transfer of appropriations," the petition read.
"If Congress cannot pass a law transferring appropriations, it follows that the President cannot by Executive Order transfer appropriations. What Congress cannot do directly the President of the Philippines cannot do indirectly."
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada first revealed the DAP after saying that he got an additional P50 million in funds after he voted to convict Chief Justice Renato Corona in his Senate impeachment trial.
Estrada said the additional funds did not influence his vote in the Corona trial.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad earlier said the DAP was established to ramp up government spending after sluggish disbursements caused the country's GDP growth to slow down to just 3.6% in 2011.
He explained that aside from savings of agencies, the DAP is also comprised of unprogrammed funds due to revenues generated beyond the target such as GOCC (government-owned and controlled corporation) dividends, and budgets for slow-moving items or projects that have been realigned to support faster-disbursing projects.
Former senator Joker Arroyo and Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago have both called for the scrapping of the DAP, saying that no law authorizes its creation.
Santiago said she is in favor of filing a case questioning the DAP before the Supreme Court especially since it violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution. She said not all lawmakers were informed about the DAP.
"That's a violation of the equal protection clause, which is a keystone of all human rights. I never received any communication with request to the DAP and I was astonished that there is such a thing. I never found it in the 2011 budget or the 2012 budget during our deliberations," she said in an interview on ANC.
Santiago reiterated that the DAP usurps the power of Congress over the purse, saying any move to funnel savings of government agencies into new projects should have congressional approval.
She also noted that before he became president, then Senator Aquino filed a budget control and impoundment act that provides that the President "cannot just juggle funds unless he goes back to Congress" to use the funds for other purposes.
She said she intends to refile the bill in the Senate.