Friday, July 25, 2014

For the Record: The President on DAP, cross-border transfers, and the Supreme Court during his Mabini 150 speech

From the Website of GPH - Government of the Philippines

DAP presentation of Secretary Abad to the Senate of the Philippines

For the Record: The President on DAP, cross-border transfers, and the Supreme Court during his Mabini 150 speech

During his speech on the commemoration of Apolinario Mabini’s 150th birth anniversary, President Benigno S. Aquino III recalled three of Mabini’s most important political ideologies, one of which is the exigency of the Executive Branch to act upon the needs of its people. This ideology, when put in a contemporary light, is the primary motivation behind the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The President further recounts the benefits brought to the people by the program, together with its constitutionality, the Supreme Court’s own history of conducting cross-border transfers, and the administration’s hope for the success of its motion for reconsideration submitted to the Supreme Court.
We are lifting some of the President’s points and laying them out below, for your information and reference.
Main objective of DAP
DAP was designed to deliver benefits to citizens as quickly as possible. As a program, it maximized public spending in order to provide immediate assistance and alleviate suffering. This was done in the service of the Filipino people.
Benefits of DAP
DAP made possible numerous projects that improved the lives of many Filipinos. Here are three programs in three DAP-funded sectors, which were mentioned in the President’s speech:
Education: DAP financed the education of 223,615 TESDA scholars, 66% of which already have gotten jobs following their training. The rest are being assisted by TESDA in finding employment.
Disaster risk reduction: DAP financed the DREAM-LiDAR project under Project NOAH, providing the public with exact and reliable information on flooding during typhoons. Now, the government is able to release warnings at least 6 hours before typhoons hit.
Tourism: 66 of the 202 roads leading to priority destinations in the country were funded through DAP. These roads allow tourists to travel the country more easily, thus boosting the industry.
On the legal basis of DAP
  • DAP was implemented with sound legal basis. Such executive powers are outlined in Sections 38, 39, and 49 of the Administrative Code of 1987, which is in line with the Constitution.
  • Previous administrations also implemented similar programs.
On cross-border transfers and the judiciary
  • Even the Supreme Court’s history shows examples of intent of cross-border transfers.
  • In July 2012, the Supreme Court earmarked its savings—amounting to 1.865 billion pesos—to augment the budget for the Manila Hall of Justice. This constitutes an intent to conduct a cross-border transfer, since the appropriation item for constructing Halls of Justice is found in the DOJ budget, which is under the Executive Branch.
  • Also in 2012, the Supreme Court wrote to the Executive Branch, requesting the transfer of 100 million pesos, intended for the Manila Hall of Justice, to the Malabon Hall of Justice: Wherefore, the court hereby requests the Department of Budget and Management to approve the transfer of the amount of One Hundred Million Pesos which was included in the DOJ-JUSIP for Fiscal Year 2012 budget for the Manila Hall of Justice to the budget of the judiciary, subject to existing policies and procedures, to be used for the construction of the Malabon Hall of Justice.
  • They only withdrew this request at the height of the DAP issue.
On the separation of powers
  • In the examples mentioned above, it is clear that the intended transfers occurred not because the Executive Branch offered help, but because other branches asked for assistance. Because the projects were for the benefit of the Filipino people, it was deemed right to provide assistance.
  • Each of the branches is supreme in its own sphere. The Judiciary has power over the interpretation of the law, while the Executive has the mandate to execute projects that will benefit the whole nation. The President considers the welfare of all citizens.
On “good faith”
  • Normally, “good faith” is understood as acting with pure intentions. Legally, it carries an additional layer of meaning: acting with sound legal basis. As such, even if your legal basis was struck down in court, one cannot say that you acted in bad faith.
  • The President points out that, consequently, the Supreme Court decision on DAP is changing this understanding of good faith. This has many implications for government.
  • Each member of the Executive Branch has to make decisions. It is only natural that sometimes these decisions will be questioned.
  • The President quoted Abraham Lincoln: “You can please some of the people some of the time; all of the people some of the time; some of the people all of the time; but you can never please all the people all the time.”
  • Within our country’s system, if someone accuses the government of wrongdoing, the obligation lies with the accuser to provide sufficient evidence of this. If the accused did everything according to the law and the right processes, then he has nothing to fear.
  • But in the Supreme Court’s decision on DAP, the implementors now have to be the ones to prove their good faith, as though they are already presumed guilty.
  • This will also have a chilling effect on the government. Now, each time an official is faced with a decision, he has to consider whether it will be deemed wrong in the future. How can anyone pass standards that have not yet been established?
On the motion for reconsideration
  • When it comes to the law, the Supreme Court has the last word. But the system also provides mechanisms for reconsideration. The Aquino administration has filed a motion for reconsideration listing all its arguments.
  • This is a legitimate process within our system. It would give all parties a chance to reconsider the arguments, and avoid making a decision that would be detrimental to our country.

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