SC: Prosecute government officials
Congress stricken off powers over lump sums
MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The Supreme Court has declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) – from past and present budgets – unconstitutional.
The high court voted 14-0. Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco inhibited. His son is a member of the House of Representatives.
The SC also ruled that the Malampaya fund can only be used for energy-related projects and not “ for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President.” The justices voted 13-1.
The PDAF was supposedly siphoned to ghost projects in a scam allegedly perpetrated by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
SC spokesperson Theodore Te confirmed the news. Reading the decision penned by Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, he said the following have been declared unconstitutional, among others:
a) The entire 2013 PDAF article
b) All legal provisions of past and present Congressional Pork Barrel Laws, such as the previous PDAF and Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) Articles and the various Congressional Insertions, which authorized legislators – whether individually or collectively organized into committees – to intervene, assume or participate in any of the various post-enactment stages of the budget execution, such as but not limited to the areas of project identification, modification and revision of project identification, fund release and/or fund realignment unrelated to the power of Congressional oversight
c) All legal provisions of past and present Congressional pork barrel laws such as the previous PDAF and CDF Articles and the various Congressional insertions which confer or conferred personal, lump sum allocations to legislators from which they are able to fund specific projects which they themselves determined
d) All informal practices of similar import and effect, which the court similarly deems to be acts of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of discretion.
Malampaya only for energy projects
The same decision also declared unconstitutional the phrase “and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President” under section 8 of Presidential Decree 910.
Adopted in 1976, the presidential fiat cited rules for the use of royalties from oil and gas finds in the country only for the financing of “energy resource development and exploitation programs and projects of the government.”
Parts of the Malampaya funds were also allegedly used for ghost projects. Some farmers earlier denied receiving aid for rehabilitation of their agricultural programs.
Te said the funds covered by the decision must be returned to the national coffers of the government. “The funds covered by the Malampaya funds and the Presidential Social Fund which shall remain therein to be utilized for their respective special purposes [only].”
The high court was also adamant in its call to prosecute those who plundered the lump sums.
The decision reads: “The court hereby directs all prosecutorial organs of the government to, within bounds of reasonable dispatch, investigate and accordingly prosecute all government officials and/or private individuals for criminal offenses.”
The National Bureau of Investigation already filed plunder raps against Napoles; senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada; and several individuals.
Yesterday, the Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the respondents to file their counter affidavits.
Netizens earlier launched a petition seeking to scrap PDAF. The organizers of the Million People March managed to get 47,000 online signatures and 87,500 on the ground for the petition at Change.org.