MANILA (Mabuhay) – The automatic appropriation for debt in the national budget is another issue that may be raised before the Supreme Court, according to administration Senator Pia Cayetano.
Cayetano said the Supreme Court‘s decision declaring controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional would be a good opportunity to raise the same question on the automatic appropriations in the annual budget being submitted to Congress by Malacañang.
“Lagi ko kini-question during the time of debate on the general principles is yung powers ng President to perform legislative function. That‘s on record,” she told reporters in an interview Tuesday.
(I always questioned during the time of debate on the general principles the powers of the President to perform legislative function. That‘s on record.)
“I‘ve always questioned how come meron tayong (we have) automatic appropriations for our debts and I have also questioned the power of the President to impound.”
“Time and again, the response to me by whoever the chairman of the committee on finance was is that it is our practice and we need a law to change it.”She added that it was not only the practice but there were existing laws that allow the automatic appropriations in the budget.
And this practice of budget impoundment and automatic appropriation, Cayetano said, are considered constitutional until declared otherwise.
“There is a principle that laws are considered constitutional until it is declared otherwise and public officials perform their duties also with the cloak of legality until it is declared it is not. So ganun din kami mag-proceed di ba (So that‘s how we should proceed, isn‘t it?) We do our jobs based on existing laws until we are told that they unconstitutional,” she further said.
But with the court‘s decision against the DAP, the senator expressed hope that the issue on the automatic appropriation would also be addressed or raised before the high tribunal.
“I actually welcome the development kasi I will be able to debate again with renewed vigor the power of the legislative to perform its power of the purse (because it really belongs to the legislative) and as I said it‘s my 10th anniversary this year and I‘ve always said that that‘s the power that was denied by Congress not only during my time but even way before that,” she said.
Cayetano said a separate petition against the automatic appropriation has to be filed at the SC since it was not covered on the court‘s recent decision on the DAP issue.
“But it seems to be a good opportunity (to file the case) sana nga may mga NGO (non-government organization)… huwag na ako kasi nga marami na akong pending na cases sa SC…” the senator added. (MNS)