Solon urges SC to uphold separation of powers, junk DAP petitions

By Cielito M. Reganit

MANILA, Feb. 23 (PNA) — A lawmaker from the House of Representatives has urged the Supreme Court (SC) to uphold the doctrine of separation of powers among the three branches of government by dismissing all petitions seeking to declare the government’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga said he was supporting the position of retired SC Justice Vicente Mendoza, who appeared Tuesday on behalf of government respondents before the high tribunal, and cautioned magistrates against ruling on the DAP cases because it would “intrude into areas reserved for the Executive and Legislative branches of government.”

“If the SC does not exercise restraint in dealing with such cases as required by the Constitution, our system of checks and balances will be in danger,” Barzaga pointed out.

He added that the lack of actual case or controversy and the lack of legal standing of the petitioners for the SC to rule on should also be taken into consideration.

Barzaga, who is also a lawyer, noted that the petitioners do not have the legal standing to bring the issue to the SC because they are not aggrieved parties as required under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

“The petitioners are not parties that have suffered an injury because of the DAP and therefore they have not acquired the locus standi or the right to bring a case before the SC,” he noted.

Likewise, the Cavite lawmaker pointed out there is no actual case or controversy that will make the DAP issue “justiciable” and within the jurisdiction of the court under its power of judicial review.

“As Justice Mendoza pointed out, the SC’s power of judicial review under Section 1, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution may be exercised only if there is an actual controversy involving rights that are legally demandable and enforceable and there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government,” Barzaga explained.

The petitioners also failed to show that certain rights have been violated, nor has there been any abuse of discretion on the part of the Executive in pursuing the DAP, which, Barzaga pointed out, falls within its (Executive) powers as defined under the Constitution, the Administrative Code of 1987 and the yearly General Appropriations Acts.

“That being the case, the issue is not a question of law but a question of fact – whether or not each of the 116 releases under the DAP falls within the definition of savings and augmentation,” he stressed.

And being a question of fact, the DAP thus falls within the jurisdiction of the lower courts and other bodies, such as the Commission on Audit, he said.

“The SC is not a ‘trier of facts’ but only of law. It should dismiss all petitions,” Barzaga said. (PNA)