Giovanna Fontanilla (2nd left), director of the University of Santo Tomas Community Development Office, announces Pope Francis' activities when he visits the pontifical university during his trip to the Philippines in January. The Pope will meet with leaders of various religions and youth representatives. (MNS photo)

Giovanna Fontanilla (2nd left), director of the University of Santo Tomas Community Development Office, announces Pope Francis’ activities when he visits the pontifical university during his trip to the Philippines in January. The Pope will meet with leaders of various religions and youth representatives. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has called for an immediate investigation and prosecution of those who misused public funds following the Supreme Court’s decision to affirm its ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

In a statement released to the media on Wednesday, CBCP President Socrates Villegas said: “It is also hoped that those who knowingly and deliberately misused public funds in a manner declared illegal by the Supreme Court should now be investigated and, if necessary, prosecuted.”

He said the CBCP will conduct its own study on the repercussions of the decision.

“While it does seem like the Court has maintained its initial characterization of transfer of funds from one branch of government to another, some are disturbed by the fact that the Resolution apparently lends its judicial fiat to disbursements for unappropriated items or projects. Under our present constitutional system, the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says its text means,” he said.

Via a unanimous vote of 13-0, the high court stood pat on its decision declaring unconstitutional the withdrawal of unobligated or uncontracted funds from implementing agencies, and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings before the end of the fiscal year and the Palace’s non-compliance with the definition of “savings” in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

The high court also upheld the striking down of the cross-border transfers of the savings of the executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the executive, as well as the use of standby funds minus a certification from the national treasurer that revenue collections exceeded the revenue targets for non-compliance with the conditions provided in the relevant GAAs.

These are the same rulings of the Supreme Court on July 1, 2014.

However, in the Motion for Reconsideration decision, the high court took out a portion from the July 1 dispositive pertaining to the funding of programs not detailed in the national budget.

The high court agreed with the Palace in saying that each item in the GAA need not specify an allotment class or source of fund to augment an item that needs more funds.

Lawyer Harry Roque said the removal of this line “just about restores a wide swath of un-appropriated and not legislatively considered expenditures to the sole discretion of the Chief Executive.”

The CBCP said it is inviting all legal academics and experts to study the implications of the decision.

“Meanwhile, all are urged to abide by the Rule of Law by complying with the decretal provisions of the Supreme Court’s judgment and resolution… The CBCP renews its call for a government that truly serves the nation and that truly avoids all forms of corruption and deceit.” (MNS)