DISBURSING so much amount of money unconstitutionally is bad enough. But justifying the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to the point of threatening the independence of a constructional branch of government is worse, because it shakes up a significant nerve of democratic principles.
This was the rub of the address of President Aquino last July 14—two weeks ahead of his scheduled State of the Nation Address on July 28. He berated the Supreme Court for being unmindful of the numerous benefits that the DAP has delivered to the people. “We ask that you renew your decision, this time taking into consideration the points I have raised,” he said.
This manner of proceeding has a lot of hitches. First, the end does not justify the means. Besides, is there no legal means to deliver a “stimulus package” that will fast-track public spending and economic growth? Why resort to something unconstitutional? Second, the “end” is nowhere in sight. An independent research group, Ibon Foundation, for instance, says that DAP did not stimulate Philippine economy. Ground reality, of course, confirms that. In the same speech, the President said that the high court presumed bad faith on the part of the administration, when it only acted out of urgency to deliver the goods and services that the people needed. But how come it’s almost a year now that the evacuees of the Zamboanga siege are still in an evacuation center? Many victims of typhoon Yolanda are still in tents and bunkhouses after eight months now. That “no sense of urgency” pervades in a bevy of crises that the country is presently shrouded with.
The rule of law is paramount. In a press statement issued shortly after the Monday evening address of President Aquino, CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas said, “But it is equally important for our people to hold fast to the basic tenets of the democratic way of life enshrined in our Constitution—it is for the Judiciary to interpret the law with definitiveness in the process of resolving justiciable issues. We must respect the Supreme Court. Where there was error, there must be humble admission and immediate rectification.”
He called on our national leaders “that they may truly be humble and respectful of our democratic institutions so that our most sacred freedoms and liberties are always upheld.” At the end of the day, this is bigger than DAP despite the billions of pesos it has wasted to corruption and patronage politics.