Monday, December 2, 2013

Constitution, which states that "public office is a public trust," is an
overarching reminder that every instrumentality of government should
exercise their official functions only in accordance with the principles of the
Constitution which embodies the parameters of the people's trust. The
notion of a public trust connotes accountability,221 hence, the various
mechanisms in the Constitution which are designed to exact accountability
from public officers.
Among others, an accountability mechanism with which the proper
expenditure of public funds may be checked is the power of congressional
oversight. As mentioned in Abakada,222 congressional oversight may be
performed either through: (a) scrutiny based primarily on Congress' power
of appropriation and the budget hearings conducted in connection with it, its
power to ask heads of departments to appear before and be heard by either of
its Houses on any matter pertaining to their departments and its power of
confirmation;223 or (b) investigation and monitoring of the implementation
of laws pursuant to the power of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of
I eg1.s I a t•w n. 224
The Court agrees with petitioners that certain features embedded in
some forms of Congressional Pork Barrel, among others the 2013 PDAF
Article, has an effect on congressional oversight. The fact that individual
legislators are given post-enactment roles in the implementation of the
budget makes it difficult for them to become disinterested "observers" when
scrutinizing, investigating or monitoring the implementation of the
appropriation .law. To a certain extent, the conduct of oversight would be
tainted as said legislators, who are vested with post-enactment authority,
would, in effect, be checking on activities in which they themselves
participate. Also, it must be pointed out that this very same concept of post enactment
authorization runs afoul of Section 14, Article VI of the 1987
Constitution which provides that:
Sec. 14. No Senator or Member of the House of Representatives may
personally appear as counsel before any court of justice or before the
Electoral Tribunals, or quasi-judicial and other administrative bodies.
Neither shall he, directly or indirectly, be interested financially in any
contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the
Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof,
including any government-owned or controlled corporation, or itssubsidiary, during his term of office. He shall not intervene in any
matter before any office of the Government for his pecuniary benefit
or where he may be called upon to act on account of his office.
(Emphasis supplied)
Clearly, allowing legislators to intervene in the various phases of
project implementation - a matter before another office of government -
renders them susceptible to taking undue advantage of their own office.
. The Court, however, cannot completely agree that the same postenactment
authority and/or the individual legislator's control of his PDAF
per se would allow him to perpetuate himself in office. Indeed, while the
Congressional Pork Barrel and a legislator's use thereof may be linked to
this area of interest, the use of his PDAF for re-election purposes is a matter
which must be analyzed based on particular facts and on a case-to-case
Finally, while the Court accounts for the possibility that the close
operational proximity between legislators and the Executive department,
through the former's post-enactment participation, may affect the process of
impeachment, this matter largely borders on the domain of politics and does
not strictly concern the Pork Barrel System's intrinsic constitutionality. As
such, it is an improper subject of judicial assessment.
In sum, insofar as its post-enactment features dilute congressional
oversight and violate Section 14, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, thus
impairing public accountability, the 2013 PDAF Article and other forms of Congressional Pork Barrel of similar nature are deemed as unconstitutional

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