On October 17, anti-pork groups and legislators from party list groups filed with the Supreme Court today the latest challenge against the pork barrel system, particularly the so called “Disbursement Acceleration Program” or DAP. The petitioners from the #Abolishpork Movement, included Dr. Carol Araullo and Renato Reyes of BAYAN, UP Prof. Judy Taguiwalo of PAGBABAGO, Henri Kahn of Concerned Citizens Movement, Manuel Dayrit of Ang Kapatiran Party, Vencer Crisostomo of Anakbayan and Victor Villanueva of Youth Act Now. The petitioners from among legislators were Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon.
Download Petition here
The Petition asked the Court to declare void and without effect the Disbursement Acceleration Program and DBM Budget Circular 541 and prayed for a Temporary Restraining Order over the DAP while the petition is pending. The Petition asserts that the DAP and Budget Circular 541 are unconstitutional and illegal because these grant the President billions in pork barrel each year by unilaterally impounding the budget approved by Congress, and realigning funds to projects selected by the President.
The Petition attacked the DAP and Budget Circular 541 on two fronts, the unconstitutionality of (i) withdrawing budget allotments from their intended projects under the GAA and (ii) realigning them to favorite projects and beneficiaries of the President, many of which were not even provided in the GAA approved by Congress.
“ The DAP funds could never be considered savings because under the law, including the GAA itself, there can be no savings if the projects from which the funds were withdrawn have not been completed or abandoned. In fact, the law requires that savings may be had if the project was implemented at a lesser cost due the efficiency of the agency. This is not however the case with DAP” said the Petitioners.
“The funds withdrawn mid year even if the projects have not been completed, were due to the inefficiency of the under-spending agencies. The DAP funds are, therefore, not savings and could not be realigned by the President under the Constitution and the General Appropriations law,” the Petitioners added.
The Petitioners also questioned the complete disregard of Pres. Aquino of congressional power to approve the budget by simply realigning the GAA and dangling the funds to senators and other public officials to get their support for executive plans and actions. They listed as questionable many disbursements in the DAP such as those given to legislators during the Corona impeachment trial, the P4.5 Billion released to DOTC to supposedly buy additional train cars, the P1.82 Billion given to the CPLA and the MNLF considering that these items were not in the GAA, P625 Million merely to conduct a survey on farmers, the P 8.5 Billion “stimulus fund” for ARMM on top of its budget approved in the GAA and P 26.9 Billion for GOCCs.
“The issue of the pork barrel system is within the judicial ambit of the Supreme Court because it is not an issue of discretion or wisdom but a question of whether Pres. Aquino violated the Constitution and laws passed by Congress in his obsession to maintain and enlarge his pork barrel. The DAP is the worst form of presidential pork barrel because it does not pretend to abide by the Constitution but blatantly and directly circumvents not just the Constitution but the appropriations and laws passed by Congress.’ said the petitioners.
“If the Court will not intervene then we will have a president which will completely control the legislature because he holds the power to propose the budget, approve the budget, realign the budget and implement the budget. This budget dictatorship must not be allowed to continue, that is why the Supreme Court is asked to strike down the Budget Circular 541, DAP and the pork barrel system in general, both the congressional and presidential pork barrel,” the groups said.