MANILA - The Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the 2013 General Appropriations Act (GAA) that was approved by Congress and signed by President Aquino is unconstitutional, Supreme Court senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Tuesday.
Carpio, during the oral arguments on the petitions questioning the legality of lawmakers' pork barrel, said the PDAF in the 2013 GAA "is facially unconstitutional" even without a Commission on Audit (COA) report.
"You do not need a COA report," he repeatedly said during the hearing on Tuesday. "The 2013 provision on PDAF is riddled with unconstitutionality."
He added that the pork barrel system in the 2013 GAA violates the Constitution because it allows the President and Congress to share powers.
Carpio said, under the 2013 GAA that includes PDAF, Cabinet secretaries and congressional committees are allowed to realign funds, and projects are identified by legislators themselves.
"That power (to realign funds) cannot be delegated (to the Cabinet). This power to realign is unconstitutional," he said.
"When the Constitution says all appropriations shall emanate from the House, it has to be acting as a body, it cannot be one legislator or a committee," Carpio said. "A legislator or a House Committee is not Congress."
He believes PDAF has been institutionalized even if it is illegal.
The most senior magistrate in the high court also believes that the current use of Malampaya funds is illegal.
Then President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree 910 in 1976 that allows the executive to use the Malampaya funds for "any other purposes." The dictator also wielded legislative power during his rule.
However, Carpio explained that the President was stripped of legislative authority when 1987 Constitution came into force.
"So, PD 910 is now facially unconstitutionally. You do not need a COA report on that," he said.
Carpio also said that the present petitions filed against the PDAF are entirely different from the previous cases involving LAMP (2004) and PHILCONSA (1994).
He Carpio said that in contrast to the 2013 PDAF case, the PHILCONSA PDAF case was only recommendatory, and the LAMP PDAF case did not give legislators the power to identify projects.
The government will present its case defending the PDAF when the oral arguments continue on October 10 and 17. - with a report from Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBNNews.com