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Belgica vs. Ochoa, GR 208566, 710 SCRA 1,89, Nov 19, 2013
The NBI Investigation was spawned by sworn affidavits of six (6) whistle-blowers who declared that JLN Corporation (Janet Lim Napoles) had swindled billions of pesos from the public coffers for "ghost projects" using dummy NGOs. Thus, Criminal complaints were filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, charging five (5) lawmakers for Plunder, and three (3) other lawmakers for Malversation, Direct Bribery, and Violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Also recommended to be charged in the complaints are some of the lawmakers’ chiefs -of-staff or representatives, the heads and other officials of three (3) implementing agencies, and the several presidents of the NGOs set up by Napoles. Whistle-blowers alleged that" at least P900 Million from royalties in the operation of the Malampaya gas project off Palawan province intended for agrarian reform beneficiaries has gone into a dummy NGO. Several petitions were lodged before the Court similarly seeking that the "Pork Barrel System" be declared unconstitutional
Whether or not the 2013 PDAF Article and all other Congressional Pork Barrel Laws similar thereto are unconstitutional considering that they violate the principles of/constitutional provisions on (a) separation of powers; (b) non-delegability of legislative power.
DECISION: The petitions are PARTLY GRANTED. In view of the constitutional violations discussed in this Decision, the Court hereby declares as UNCONSTITUTIONAL:
RATIO DECIDENDI: Jurisprudence provides that an actual case or controversy is one which "involves a conflict of legal rights, an assertion of opposite legal claims, susceptible of judicial resolution as distinguished from a hypothetical or abstract difference or dispute. In other words, "there must be a contrariety of legal rights that can be interpreted and enforced on the basis of existing law and jurisprudence." Related to the requirement of an actual case or controversy is the requirement of "ripeness," meaning that the questions raised for constitutional scrutiny are already ripe for adjudication. "A question is ripe for adjudication when the act being challenged has had a direct adverse effect on the individual challenging it. It is a prerequisite that something had then been accomplished or performed by either branch before a court may come into the picture, and the petitioner must allege the existence of an immediate or threatened injury to itself as a result of the challenged action." "Withal, courts will decline to pass upon constitutional issues through advisory opinions, bereft as they are of authority to resolve hypothetical or moot questions." Based on these principles, the Court finds that there exists an actual and justiciable controversy in these cases. The requirement of contrariety of legal rights is clearly satisfied by the antagonistic positions of the parties on the constitutionality of the "Pork Barrel System." Also, the questions in these consolidated cases are ripe for adjudication since the challenged funds and the provisions allowing for their utilization – such as the 2013 GAA for the PDAF, PD 910 for the Malampaya Funds and PD 1869, as amended by PD 1993, for the Presidential Social Fund – are currently existing and operational; hence, there exists an immediate or threatened injury to petitioners as a result of the unconstitutional use of these public funds.