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Maria Carolina P. Araullo, et al. vs. Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III et al, GR 209287, July 1, 2014
In this Motion for Reconsideration, Aquino III, et al. maintain that the issues in these consolidated cases were mischaracterized and unnecessarily constitutionalized because the Court’s interpretation of savings can be overturned by legislation considering that savings is defined in the General Appropriations Act (GAA), hence making savings a statutory issue. They aver that the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations constitute savings and may be used for augmentation and that the Court should apply legally recognized norms and principles, most especially the presumption of good faith, in resolving their motion. On their part, Araullo, et al. pray for the partial reconsideration of the decision on the ground that the Court failed to declare as unconstitutional and illegal all moneys under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) used for alleged augmentation of appropriation items that did not have actual deficiencies. They submit that augmentation of items beyond the maximum amounts recommended by the President for the programs, activities and projects (PAPs) contained in the budget submitted to Congress should be declared unconstitutional.
Are the acts and practices under the DAP, particularly their non-conformity with Section 25(5), Article VI of the Constitution and the principles of separation of power and equal protection, constitutional?
DECISION: WHEREFORE, the Court PARTIALLY GRANTS the petitions for certiorari and prohibition; and DECLARES the following acts and practices under the Disbursement Acceleration Program, National Budget Circular No. 541 and related executive issuances UNCONSTITUTIONAL for being in violation of Section 25(5), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution and the doctrine of separation of powers
RATIO DECIDENDI: No. Regardless of the perceived beneficial purposes of the DAP, and regardless of whether the DAP is viewed as an effective tool of stimulating thenational economy, the acts and practices under the DAP and the relevant provisions of NBC No. 541 cited in the Decision should remain illegal and unconstitutional as long as the funds used to finance the projects mentioned therein are sourced from savings that deviated from the relevant provisions of the GAA, as well as the limitation on the power to augment under Section 25(5), Article VI of the Constitution. In a society governed by laws, even the best intentions must come within the parameters defined and set by the Constitution and the law. Laudable purposes must be carried out through legal methods.