The Supreme Court is set to vote on the constitutionality of the so-called “Development Acceleration Program” today, according to news reports.
During the oral arguments in the Supreme Court last January 28, the executive branch through the sol-gen all of a sudden announced that it had abolished the so-called DAP, and argued therefore that the petitions should be dismissed for mootness.
In the nick of time or so the DBM thinks.
Mootness? More than 72 Billion Pesos in public funds were juggled then swung around to augment items that were NOT in the budget or the General Appropriations Act (GAA). (And, as revealed by some senators in privilege speeches, press conferences, and interviews, a minimum of fifty million pesos to 100 million pesos were juggled their way in the heels of the Corona impeachment, as borne by official records that can be taken judicial notice of)
The Constitution authorizes only Congress to allocate public moneys to fund items in the different offices and departments of government thru the General Appropriations Act.
The fundamental issue here is: Whether or not the DBM can impound funds from departments, national agencies, local governments, GOCCs, previously allocated to these institutions, and juggle them to fund other items NOT provided so in the GAA.
Where is that 72 Billion Pesos now? The Official Gazette, the official repository of all official enactments, stated that in 2011, the DAP involved 72.11 Billion Pesos (According to GMA News, 11 Sept. 2013, the official Philippine government gazette said that the development acceleration program involved P72.11 billion from appropriations that have not been spent by various government agencies.)
To argue that the juggling of 72 Billion Pesos in public funds to items not provided so in the GAA had become moot just because it was suddenly stopped, is to inveigle the Supreme Court to agree that the 72 Billion Pesos suddenly disappearing from items found in the national budget, and appearing in other items not provided so in the budget, is not an unauthorized sleight of hand but a display of accounting and book-keeping prowess.
(image by Nevit Dilmen published here non-commercially under the Creative Commons Attribution License)
DBM officials and Malacañang officials should consider a career in the Cirque du Soleil.
More important however, 72 Billion Pesos disappearing from one hat then appearing in another hat has serious legal consequences on the nature of those disappearing-and-appearing public funds, on the projects and items from which those funds were taken, on the projects and items so-funded by juggling, and on the senators, undersecretaries, middlemen, “NGO networkers”, contractors, who benefited from those juggled funds. The 72 billion pesos exist — now you see them — then disappeared — now you don’t see them — then reappeared — now you see them — as they continue to exist in different pockets in a state of constitutional limbo as to their nature. These flying public funds constitute 72 billion unresolved, active constitutional and legal issues.
The 72 Billion Pesos in public funds juggled and divided up are still floating in the air and their beneficiaries still swinging as acrobats – that can never be moot.