Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon warned of a possible constitutional crisis arising from President Benigno Aquino III’s request for Congress to pass a joint resolution to clarify the definition of certain budgetary terms.
In his fifth state of the nation address (SONA) yesterday, Aquino asked Congress to resolve the conflicts of interpretation arising from the issue on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) through legislation.
“We are calling on the cooperation of Congress for the passage of a Joint Resolution that will bring clarity to the definitions and ideas still being debated upon, and to the other issues that only you in the legislature—as the authors of our laws—can shed light on,” Aquino said in his SONA.
“Aquino’s call on Congress to pass a clarificatory resolution that would enable a change in the definition of such budgetary terms like ‘savings’ is a clear challenge to the Supreme Court’s decision on DAP. The president is overtly asking Congress to legislate his version of the DAP story, in effect urging the Legislature to join forces with the Executive Branch in defying the third branch of government,” Ridon said.
“The president’s pronouncement may spark a constitutional crisis, and is a clear sign of his dictatorial tendencies,” the lawmaker added.
A constitutional crisis is a situation wherein separate branches of government disagree about the extent of each branch’s power, usually arising from a dispute on the interpretation of certain provisions of the Constitution.
On July 1, the Supreme Court declared Aquino’s multibillion DAP as unconstitutional, saying that the Executive branch erred in their definition of “savings.”
“Unreleased appropriations and withdrawn unobligated allotments under the DAP were not savings, and the use of such appropriations contravened Section 25(5), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution,” the SC declared.
The youth lawmaker said that if Congress abides by the President’s request – which is not far from happening – the joint resolution would just be struck down by the Supreme Court, resulting to a spiraling contest of powers between the three branches of government.
A joint resolution passed by both chambers of Congress has the force of law once signed by the president.
“When the SC strikes down that resolution, what will happen next? Aquino’s mindless pronouncements may just have sparked a clash between government branches,” Ridon pointed out.
“By directing Congress to formally legislate the Executive Department’s interpretation of the term ‘savings,’ Aquino is blatantly defying the SC decision. Not only has Aquino committed contempt of court, the president is also inviting a clash between branches of government.
“Instead of uniting the three branches, Aquino – in his thirst for supremacy – has again wielded his feisty tongue to cleave government apart. This is a clear failure of leadership,” Ridon said.
SONA 2014: Director’s cut of DAP defense saga
Meanwhile, Ridon also lambasted Aquino for turning the SONA into a “director’s cut” of his DAP defense saga.
“Sa simula pa lang, DAP na agad ang bukambibig. Hanggang sa matapos, DAP pa rin. When Aquino says the Filipino is worth fighting for, what he really means is that DAP is worth fighting for,” Ridon said.
“Aquino’s fifth SONA was filled with lies and peppered with half-truths. There was no substantive discussion on pressing issues on education, employment, and wages. No mention of priority bills like the FOI. Mere half-truths were uttered with regard to agrarian reform, job generation, and the economy. All in all, Aquino’s fifth SONA is an appeal to emotion – an extended defense of DAP that does not really consider the real state of the Filipino people,” Ridon explained.
“The president’s use of case studies in his SONA reminds us of former President Arroyo’s tricks and gimmicks in past SONAs. Parang kinopya nga ni Noynoy e. Bumenta na ‘yan,” the solon added.
Ridon also slammed the president for turning the tables on critics.
In his SONA, Aquino mentioned “noisy individuals” who “willfully close off their minds and choose to live in their own world and reality.”
“As the transformation of society becomes even more apparent, these people are acting just how we expect them to: their attacks on us are becoming more frequent, more venomous, and more intense. As the benefits of reform become clearer, it becomes more and more difficult for them to succeed in fooling the people, which is why they are sowing doubt and uncertainty. They have become desperate,” Aquino said.
“Excuse me, Mr. President, but it is you who’s living in your own obtuse reality. Your desperation has become so apparent that you even chose to attack your critics during the SONA,” Ridon said, noting that Aquino’s defensive stance is not surprising since he is facing three impeachment cases over DAP.
“Aquino’s fifth SONA might just be his last hurrah. By failing to report on the genuine state of the nation and by further dividing the government that he should be leading, the president is now on his way out of Malacanang,” Ridon concluded.