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    Posted July 18, 2014 by

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    Will Phl court reverse its first ruling on DAP?

    SHORTLY after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in Manila filed a Motion for Reconsideration in connection with the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), political observers asked: “Will the Supreme Court reverse its first ruling on DAP?”
    In a note he released to the press Friday afternoon, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the motion contains a comprehensive argument regarding the government’s position on the DAP.
    "In seeking reconsideration, the government affirms its respect of the rule of law and its compliance with judicial processes," Coloma said.
    In the motion, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza asked the SC to reconsider parts of its July 1 decision that declared specific acts and practices under the program unconstitutional.
    Through its legal team, led by Solicitor General Jardeleza and retired Supreme Court Justice Vicente Mendoza, the Palace asked the High Court to afford the DAP the presumption of constitutionality and good faith.
    “The President and his alter egos, in implementing a decidedly successful program, deserve to be afforded the traditional constitutional presumptions that apply to most other forms of public actions, especially the presumption of good faith,” the Palace said.
    In the 52-page Motion for Reconsideration, the Executive branch specifically asked the High Tribunal to declare that the withdrawn obligated allotments and unreleased appropriations under the DAP are savings; that cross-border transfers under the DAP are constitutional; and that the President augmented items with appropriation cover under the DAP.
    It also asked the Supreme Court to consider that the use of the unprogrammed fund under the DAP complied with the conditions provided in the relevant General Appropriations Acts (GAAs); and that regardless of the nullification of certain acts and practices under the DAP and/or National Budget Circular No. 541, the operative fact doctrine does not operate to impute bad faith to authors, proponents and implementers who continue to enjoy the presumption of innocence and regularity in the performance of official functions and duties.
    Apart from the presumption of constitutionality and good faith, the Executive department wanted the High Court to apply other “fundamental norms of constitutional litigation and basic fairness” in resolving the government’s appeal.
    This includes the recognition of institutional competence and the value of bureaucratic practices, the understanding of the constitutional role of the Executive in managing the economy, the acknowledgment of the constitutional authority of Congress to define savings, the shared role of the political departments in preparing the budget and the constitutionally-designed minimal role of the Supreme Court on these matters.
    In its motion, the Executive branch maintained that the use of savings and unused funds that were pooled under the disbursement mechanism was legal and within President Benigno Aquino III’s authority to augment funds or appropriation under Article VI, Section 25(5) of the Constitution.
    It also said that the government, through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), headed by Secretary Florencio Abad, had “properly interpreted” relevant portions in the GAAs involving the legislative parameters for accumulating savings.
    The Executive branch argued that mechanisms used to incur savings under the DAP had existed in one form or another throughout all administrations under the 1987 Constitution.
    In the absence of any prohibition, “it is the essence of sound management to stop the flow of scarce resources from projects that are failing and not moving, and to reallocate them into projects that have higher chances of success,” the Palace said.
    It further warned that if “we follow the Honorable Court’s interpretation, this would effectively deprive millions of Filipinos access to funds for reconstruction and rehabilitation.”
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