OK. What did they say about bad things happening? That when they do happen they come like the avalanche. I’m referring to the latest, the turn of events following the SC’s unanimous decision that the Executive Branch’ Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is unconstitutional. This comes at a time when court hearing with the first three legislators accused in the PDAF Scam is yet to begin.
Available information on the SC decision clarifies that
The high court specified certain “acts and practices” under the DAP that were unconstitutional, including “the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies, and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings” before the end of the fiscal year and outside the approved national budget.
The decision also voided the DAP provision allowing “cross-border transfers” of Malacañang’s savings “to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the executive.” It also barred the practice of “funding projects, activities and programs that were not covered by any appropriation in the General Appropriations Act.”
These acts constitute the gist of the nullified Department of Budget and Management Circular No. 541, which allowed the withdrawal of “unobligated allotments of agencies with low levels of obligations as of June 20, 2012, both for continuing and current allotments,” and the release of these funds to “augment existing programs and projects of any agency and to fund priority programs and projects not considered in the 2012 budget but expected to be started or implemented during the current year.”
The court also voided the practice of using “unprogrammed funds despite the absence of a certification by the National Treasurer that the revenue collections exceeded the revenue targets for noncompliance with the conditions provided in the GAA.”
Basically, what this says is, it’s not the DAP per se. It’s the process. This is the Judiciary deciding, after all. Certain decisions and actions must be legislated first. In a law abiding community, the end doesn’t necessarily justify the means. Well, unless there is a justifiable and compelling reason for an exemption, but still, the exemption, to be lawful, must go through the mandated i.e. constitutional process of legalizing it.
But now that the SC decision is out, what then?
The decision brings to public awareness the harsh reality that is Philippine partisan politics. Most noticeable is that members of the team responsible for having brought the constitutionality of DAP to SC’s attention is comprised of “the other side” i.e. those not with the current administration’s Party or have fallen out of favor with the President. Their timing was no less perfect, in that the case was filed when the PDAF Scam broke out. Recall too that relative to “the friendlies” who were among those found out in the COA report, it was the “the other side” who suffered the spotlight. Now, armed with the SC decision, this side is calling for certain heads of “the friendlies” to fall, which includes the President’s (he’s even called the ‘Pork Barrel King’, next to Napoles’ Queenship – what tandem is this?). Purportedly, the President’s impeachment is the logical next step.
Senator Enrile counts on this attitude and behavior of Filipino politicians, regardless of whose side they are party to. (“The friendlies” are also criticized by the Filipino public for stalling the justice process in the PDAF Scam, and it appears that with the decision on DAP, it’s given them the exact opposite of what their side was perhaps hoping for.) But the Senator understands that to tango, it takes two. So he also counts on the people to continue doing what it’s good at generally: lacking organization, lacking a common national vision, insistent on more fun as if their country’s not teetering on the edge of crisis if not in one already, and overly focused on form and appearances. This is the formula the Senator relies on to keep him out of jail. It’s the wellspring from which Senator Revilla, Jr dipped into as he sailed through his privilege speech.
This is what makes the SC decision dangerous at this time. In the wrong hands, instead of it serving as catalyst to open up democratic processes to whittle out what will work for the nation – which is the logical next step – it can be twisted to serve as a personal tool to avenge stalled political futures.
And the nation is their playing field.
Worse, the people allows it. Or, are rendered helpless to stop it.
I recall the unseating of then President Estrada from Malacañang. It was unbelievably quick – it began in the morning and before the end of the day the country had a new President! The oddest thing was, majority of the people were looking at it like it was an everyday occurrence. But I remember people in Baguio City saying WTF is going on at the capital? People outside the capital had no forewarning of the event – rendered mere spectators of an incredible, incredible show.
This country is still vulnerable and if things are not handled well, anything can happen. That’s what give concerned citizens the palpitations.
Readers of this blog may have noticed that articles in recent past dwelt more on Philippine politics than on development and evaluation. It’s a reflection of national reality. The country’s potentials – growth and development – are seriously arrested because of what’s happening (and not) in it’s political arena.