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Gatchalian warns of possible ‘constitutional crisis’

A veteran solon has warned of a possible constitutional crisis should Malacañang continue to insist that the Supreme Court or SC committed an error in its decision when it declared as “unconstitutional” certain provisions of the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP.


Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian was referring to Monday’s nationwide address of President Benigno Aquino wherein towards the end of his 14-page, 23-minute speech, the chief executive warned of a possible clash between the executive and judiciary.

Gatchalian described the President’s words as a “veiled threat” against the high tribunal that it should now look favorably on the motion of reconsideration that the Palace will file with the SC whose justices voted 13-0 in declaring DAP as unconstitutional.

“What if the Supreme Court denies Malacanang’s motion for reconsideration, will the executive branch accept it or will the President continue to challenge the high tribunal and insist on the legality of DAP, which was based on the Administrative Code of 1987, particularly Section 39,” Gatchalian said.

“Should this happen, I see here a possible constitutional crisis,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian, a stalwart of the Nationalist People’s Coalition or NPC,clarified that while there is nothing wrong with using the savings of the executive branch as a stimulus to the economy, the power of the purse belongs solely to Congress.

The legislator added that any realignment of budget to other projects not provided in the General Appropriations Act or GAA should still pass through Congress in the form of supplemental budget.

“The Supreme Court decision merely reaffirmed that principle of separation of powers with the legislative branch having the sole power and authority when it comes to the national budget,” Gatchalian pointed out.

The lawmaker said the High Court ruling declared unconstitutional the “cross-border transfer of the savings of the executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the executive.”

He explained that in the event of a possible clash between the executive and judiciary, it is the legislative branch that could serve as a mediator and in the process, Congress will have to assert its “power of the purse” and in doing so, it will necessarily side with the high tribunal’s ruling.

“This scenario could lead to a possible constitutional crisis and I fear that when this happens, some sectors within and outside government might move on their own to resolve the political impasse,” Gatchalian warned.

Gatchalian also said the Palace failed to justify its move to give DAP funds to the legislative branch, repeating his call for the former to be liable for how all the funds were spent.

“If you really want to stimulate the economy, ask the Regional Development Councils or RDCs what they need to boost local economies that in turn contribute to the national level. Why give DAP funds to legislators? The RDC’s goal is development, while the lawmakers’ motivation is to get votes. I wish the President used his time yesterday to explain the matter to the public,” Gatchalian explained.

RDCs are counterparts of the National Economic and Development Authority or NEDA which direct regional socio-economic development efforts to address the uneven progress in the country.

All regions are governed by an RDC except for Metro Manila, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao or ARMM, and the Cordillera Administrative Region or CAR.

Gatchalian added: “As the source of DAP, it is high time for the Executive branch to be responsible for the entire use of the said fund including those channeled to senators, and stop pointing fingers to those who were given the funds. Or else, it will only show that the Palace authorized the lawmakers to use the public funds on anything they want.” (Monica Cantilero)