Ruling against PDAF also removes DAP

November 24, 2013 4:40 PM

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Ruling against PDAF also removes DAP

“Yinyi Inc., a mining company based in Eastern Samar, where the typhoon severely devastated, also helped. It generously granted its storage of food, water and other supplies to the victims, and used all its equipment, such as pay-loaders, to clear roads, and donated its diesel stockpile to support the relief work.”

Still, what it and subsidiary Yinshu Co. are doing in Eastern Samar must be exposed. They are illegally mining nickel and chromite in Salcedo town.

Farmers and environmentalists say the two firms have no permits. For years “small-scale miners” have been used as fronts to ship out tons of ore to China. Forests, rivers and farms despoiled as mountainsides are excavated. Processed for steel and telecoms equipment, the chromite is fashioned into weapons and surveillance equipment with which China grabs Philippine shoals and reefs.

Provincial and municipal officials abet the crime. The same is true with other illegal nickel, chromium and magnetite mines in Guiuan, Eastern Samar; Macarthur, Leyte; San Felipe, Masinloc and Sta, Cruz, Zambales; Pangasinan; Ilocos; and Cagayan (see Gotcha, 20 Nov. 2013).

Police raided last Thursday the call center of bodog.com, the world’s biggest illegal online gambling operation. Owned by fugitive billionaire Calvin Edward Ayre, the Bodog unit was in plush Enterprise Tower, Ayala Avenue, Makati City. Canadian Ayre has other offices in Makati and Quezon City. He also faces charges of raping a housemaid.

It is uncertain if Ayre is in the Philippines. He is wanted in the U.S. for illegal gambling. In a Forbes magazine cover story in 2006, Bodog’s revenues were estimated to have tripled to $7.3 billion from 2004.

Ayre operates in Manila by virtue of a sublicense from a gaming firm that operates at the Cagayan Special Economic Zone.

The Supreme Court abolition of the hated Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) is multilayered. Its ruling not only slams the congressional pork barrel for being hidden lump sums. It also takes the logical next step of prescribing line-item budgeting from now on.

This should hearten petitioners against the equally hated presidential “pork,” or Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The DAP are lump sums too. Under the SC ruling, it too must go.

The ruling (see http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/microsite/pdaf/) tackles the many unconstitutionalities cited by the anti-PDAF petitioners. Cited is the “collective lump sum” of P24.79-billion PDAF in the 2013 General Appropriations Act. It consists of “personal lump sums” of P200 million per senator and P70 million per congressman.

As lump sums, the congressional “pork” negates the constitutional power of the Executive to implement projects. Too, it trumps the power of the President to veto whatever objectionable spending the lawmakers would do with the lump sums.

Page 49 expounds: “In these cases, petitioners claim that, ‘In the current system where the PDAF is a lump-sum appropriation, the legislator’s identification of the projects after the passage of the GAA denies the President the chance to veto that item later on.’ Accordingly, they submit that the ‘item veto power of the President mandates that appropriations bills adopt line-item budgeting’ and that ‘Congress cannot choose a mode of budgeting which effectively renders the constitutionally-given powers of the President useless’ ... The Court agrees with petitioners.”

The DAP reached P142 billion in 2011-2012. Impounded from Executive agencies, it consisted of funds unspent midyear by some and yearend savings of others. Malacañang then unconstitutionally realigned the money to projects that were not in the Congress-approved GAAs for 2012 and 2013. Moreover, Malacañang unconstitutionally transferred P13 billion of the P142 billion to a separate government branch, Congress. Re-allotted were lump sums of P50 million to P100 million to 20 senators, and P10 million to P15 million to selected congressmen, for them to spend as they please.

The SC has yet to rule on the DAP itself. In doing so, will some justices break ranks from the unanimous 14-0 that purged the PDAF?

The Executive must look for a graceful exit from the DAP. It can state that, “We now know that what we did is unconstitutional; we won’t do it again.” It must not fear impeachment by a Congress that also now knows that it has been breaking the Constitution all these years, but most stop from hereon.

As three Broadway musicals currently run in Manila, theater buffs can be confused which one to watch. Best to imagine vacationing in New York, and stretching their budgets to watch the most plays that they can.

First in line: Grease, only till this weekend, at the Romulo Theater, RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue, Makati. Then, The Addams Family, running till next weekend, at the Meralco Theater, Ortigas Avenue, Pasig. Last but not least, The Producers, till weekend after next, at Onstage, Greenbelt-1, Makati.

Grease brings back the hit songs from the loves and lives of the Rydell high school graduation class, 1959-60. Like, “You’re the One that I Want,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” “Grease Lightning,” “Summer Nights,” and more.

Starring: Gian Magdangal, Frencheska Farr, Rafa Siguion-Reyna, Jennifer Blair Bianco, and Ciarra Sotto. With special, one-show-only appearances by: Bimbo Cerrudo, Tirso Cruz III, Michael de Mesa, Boboy Garrovillo, Audie Gemora, Jay-R, Franco Laurel, Kris Lawrence, Jake Macapagal, OJ Mariano, JM Rodriguez, and Tom Rodriguez. Director: Robbie Guevara. Produced by 9Works Theatrical’s Santi Santamaria.

Source: philstar.com

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