The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition filed by former Manila councilor and losing senatorial candidate Greco Belgica, Margarita Cojuangco and several others that sought to compel Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to investigate and file a case against President Benigno Aquino III in connection with the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
In their petition, they said the Aquino government should abide by the high court’s decision striking down as illegal the PDAF and DAP.
However, petitioners said the Aquino administration is selective in implementing the November 2013 decision of the Supreme Court on PDAF and the July 2014 ruling on DAP.
The high court, in 2013, declared as unconstitutional the PDAF, commonly known as the “pork barrel fund,” and all the laws that created it. The high court also prohibited the future creation of laws to revive the said fund.
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The high court declared portions of the DAP as unconstitutional including (1) withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies, and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the General Appropriations Act; (2) cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the Executive; and (3) use of unprogrammed funds despite the absence of a certification by the National Treasurer that the revenue collections exceeded the revenue targets for non-compliance with the conditions provided in the relevant General Appropriations Act.
In both ruling, the high court ordered an investigation and prosecution of erring officials on PDAF as well as the proponents, authors and implementors of DAP.
Belgica, Cojuangco together with Bishop Reuben M. Abante, Quintin P. San Diego, Rev. Jose Gonzales and Atty. Glenn A. Chong said it has been more than two years since the high court’s order but “erring public officials remain scot-free.”
In its recent ruling, the high court, however, said the acts sought by petitioners are not ministerial but discretionary.
High Court’s Information Chief Atty. Theodore Te explained that the mandamus will issue only (1) where there exists a clear, legal right to the act demanded; (2) respondent has the duty to perform the act because it is mandated by law; (3) respondent unlawfully neglects the performance of such duty required by law; (4) the act to be performed is ministerial, not discretionary; and (5) there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.
“None of these elements exist and thus mandamus does not lie and petitioners are not entitled to the relief sought,” Te said. RAM/rga
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