MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court released its landmark decision striking down lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as unconstitutional.
The Court announced its unanimous decision on Tuesday, November 19, but the full copy was made available only on Friday, November 21. Rappler is making a copy of the text available below.
Only Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr inhibited from the case because his son is a congressman.
In the 72-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, the Court said it seeks to “rectify an error which has persisted in the chronicles of our history.”
Besides the PDAF, the Court also declared illegal provisions in laws that allowed the President to use the Malampaya Fund and the President’s Social Fund (PSF) for purposes beyond the mandate of these funds.
The Court cited the following reasons for striking down the pork barrel system:
- The system violated the principle of separation of powers in allowing legislators “to wield non-oversight, post-enactment authority in vital areas of budget execution.”
- The system violated the principle of non-delegability of legislative power by giving lawmakers personal, discretionary funds from which they are able to fund specific projects they determine.
- The PDAF denied the President veto power in creating a system of budgeting where items are not “textualized” or introduced as line items into the budget bill.
- The system impaired public accountability in giving legislators “a stake in the affairs of budget execution” when they should exercise congressional oversight.
- The system subverted local autonomy in authorizing legislators to intervene in local affairs.
- The system violated the principle of non-delegability of legislative power in allowing the President to appropriate the Malampaya Fund for purposes other than energy-related activities and the PSF for purposes under the broad classification of “priority infrastructure development projects.”
The Court said the practices it specified should “never again be adopted in any system of governance, by any name or form.”
“Disconcerting as it is to think that a system so constitutionally unsound has monumentally endured, the Court urges the people and its co-stewards in government to look forward with the optimism of change and the awareness of the past,” the Court said.
“At a time of great civic unrest and vociferous public debate, the Court fervently hopes that its Decision, while it may not purge all the wrongs of society nor bring back what has been lost, guides this nation to the path forged by the Constitution so that no one may heretofore detract from its cause nor stray from its course. After all, this is the Court’s bounden duty and no other’s.”
Also below are the concurring opinions of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justice Arturo Brion, and Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
Observers have hailed the decision as historic and a step to ending political patronage in the Philippines.
The Court handed down its ruling following national outrage over the pork barrel scam, where lawmakers allegedly siphoned off their PDAF to fake non-governmental organizations in exchange for kickbacks.
Lawmakers had mixed reactions to the ruling, with some welcoming it as a boost for transparency while others decried the loss of funds purportedly for their scholars and indigent patients.
Read the decision here:
Read the opinion of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno here:
Read the opinion of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio here:
Read the opinion of Associate Justice Arturo Brion here:
Read the opinion of Associate Justice Marvic Leonen here: