DAP-like mechanism in SC rejected

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Thursday, July 24, 2014


MANILA -- Supreme Court (SC) justices rejected the use of pooled savings for the tribunal's capital outlay projects such as buildings and equipment six months before they handed down their ruling against the constitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), a document showed.

In a resolution dated January 21, the SC turned down the Department of Budget and Management's (DBM) offer to use accumulated savings in response to the judiciary's request on March 5, 2013 to transfer the Department of Justice's (DOJ) P100-million allocation for building the Manila Hall of Justice in 2012 to the construction of the Malabon Hall of Justice.

"Wherefore, the SC notes the memorandum dated January 17, 2014 of Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr. (chairperson of the Halls of Justice Coordinating Committee) for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno and adopts the recommendation contained therein. The SC confirms the withdrawal of the request subject of the March 5, 2013 resolution and declines the offer contained in the January 10, 2014 letter of Secretary Florencio Abad to avail of a portion of the pooled savings," the resolution stated.

Abad brought up this option since Section 23 of the General Provisions of the 2012 national budget prohibits the spending of funds for capital outlay like buildings beyond December 31, 2013.

The resolution was a reiteration of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's letter on December 23, 2013 to Abad withdrawing such request.

But for President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday, the SC had attempted to commit cross-border transfer of funds, wherein the budget of a branch of government is used to augment the funds of offices not under its control.

Hoj Manila (Jdf)

The SC said in its July 1 decision that cross-border transfers, say from the executive to judiciary, are unconstitutional.

Aquino also said that in July 2012, the SC had savings amounting to P1.865 billion and was earmarked to augment the fund meant for the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice.

The SC earlier said that savings under its yearly budget were not tapped for the project. Instead, the Court sourced the money from the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) collected from docket and other legal fees.

Under Presidential Decree 1949, 80 percent of the JDF is released monthly to justices, judges and employees as cost of living allowance while the remaining 20 percent is intended for office equipment and court facilities.

Some administration lawmakers have already filed bills seeking to amend or abolish the JDF amid allegations of lack of transparency in the disbursement of funds.

The JDF has a balance of P1.38 billion as of March this year, according to the SC. (Sunnex)

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