SC affirms, clarifies DAP ruling

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Feb 03 2015 03:11 PM | Updated as of Feb 04 2015 02:23 AM

MANILA (UPDATED) - The Supreme Court affirmed its ruling declaring unconstitutional cross-border allotments in the budget, the main bone of contention in the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) case.

In a press conference, SC spokesman Theodore Te said the high court modified its ruling last July 1 to “clarify certain matters and dispel further uncertainty” about the DAP, a pump-priming program of the Aquino administration.

In a partial granting of the motions for reconsideration of its July decision, the high court maintained that the following acts under the DAP are unconstitutional:

a) The withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies, and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the General Appropriations Acts; and,

(b) The cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the Executive.

The latest decision removed a part in the July decision, which originally reads, “The funding of projects, activities and programs that were not covered by any appropriation in the General Appropriations Act.”

The high court, which has yet to release its latest decision, said funds can’t be declared savings until these are declared “free from any obligation or encumbrance, and the work, activity or purpose for which the appropriation is authorized has been completed, discontinued or abandoned.”

The high court also stressed that the president can’t just approve the use of savings in one item of the budget to cover deficits in another item.

It said the Constitution “expressly limits the authority of the President to augment an item in the GAA to only those in his department out of the savings in other items of his own department’s appropriations.”

Bad faith

The high court also clarified that it did not declare invalid the 116 DAP-funded projects as a result of its decision.

“The Court itself recognized the encouraging effects of the DAP on the country’s economy and acknowledged its laudable purposes,” the high court said.

The high court said the presumption of good faith on the part of the government stands insofar as implementing the DAP projects are concerned.

The court said the “the ascertainment of good faith, or the lack of it, and the determination of whether or not due diligence and prudence were exercised, are questions of fact. The want of good faith is thus better determined by tribunals other than this Court, which is not a trier of facts.”

In this case, only “authors” and not “proponents” and “implementors” may face the consequences of their acts.

The doctrine of operative act - or the doctrine that nullifies the void law but sustains its effects - could not apply to the author since he or she was the one who created the DAP.