Monday, December 2, 2013

Res judicata (which means a "matter adjudged") and stare decisis non
quieta et movere ([or simply, stare decisis] which means "follow past
precedents and do not disturb what has been settled") are general procedural
law principles which both deal with the effects of previous but factually
similar dispositions to subsequent cases. For the cases at bar, the Court
examines the applicability of these principles in relation to its prior rulings
in Philconsa and LAMP.
The focal point of res judicata is the judgment. The principle states
that a judgment on the merits in a previous case rendered by a court of
competent jurisdiction would bind a subsequent case if, between the first and
second actions, there exists an identity of parties, of subject matter, and
of causes of action. 151 This required identity is not, however, attendant
hereto since Philconsa and LAMP, respectively involved constitutional
challenges against the 1994 CDF Article and 2004 PDAF Article, whereas
the cases at bar call for a broader constitutional scrutiny of the entire "Pork
Barrel System." Also, the ruling in LAMP is essentially a dismissal based
on a procedural technicality - and, thus, hardly a judgment on the merits - in
that petitioners therein failed to present any "convincing proof x x x showing
that, indeed, there were direct releases of funds to the Members of
Congress, who actually spend them according to their sole discretion" or
"pertinent evidentiary support [to demonstrate the] illegal misuse of PDAF
in the form of kickbacks [and] has become a common exercise of
unscrupulous Members of Congress." As such, the Court upheld, in view of
the presumption of constitutionality accorded to every law, the 2004 PDAF
Article, and saw "no need to review or reverse the standing pronouncements
in the said case." Hence, for the foregoing reasons, the res judicata
principle, insofar as the Philconsa and LAMP cases are concerned, cannot
apply.
On the other hand, the focal point of stare decisis is the doctrine
created. The principle, entrenched under Article 8152 of the Civil Code,
evokes the general rule that, for the sake of certainty, a conclusion reached
in one case should be doctrinally applied to those that follow if the facts are
substantially the same, even though the parties may be different. It proceeds
from the first principle of justice that, absent any powerful countervailing
considerations, like cases ought to be decided alike. Thus, where the same
questions relating to the same event have been put forward by the parties
similarly situated as in a previous case litigated and decided by a competent
court, the rule of stare decisis is a bar to any attempt to re-litigate the same
• 153
ISSUe.
Philconsa was the first case where a constitutional challenge against a
Pork Barrel provision, i.e., the 1994 CDF Article, was resolved by the Court.
To properly understand its context, petitioners' posturing was that "the
power given to the [M]embers of Congress to propose and identify projects
and activities to be funded by the [CDF] is an encroachment by the
legislature on executive power, since said power in an appropriation act is in
implementation of the law" and that "the proposal and identification of the
projects do not involve the making of laws or the repeal and amendment
thereof, the only function given to the Congress by the Constitution." 154 In
deference to the foregoing submissions, the Court reached the following
main conclusions: one, under the Constitution, the power of appropriation,
or the "power of the purse," belongs to Congress; two, the power of
appropriation carries with it the power to specify the project or activity to be
funded under the appropriation law and it can be detailed and as broad as
Congress wants it to be; and, three, the proposals and identifications made
by Members of Congress are merely recommendatory. At once, it is
apparent that the Philconsa resolution was a limited response to a
separation of powers problem, specifically on the propriety of conferring
post-enactment identification authority to Members of Congress. On the
contrary, the present cases call for a more holistic examination of (a) the
inter-relation between the CDF and PDAF Articles with each other,
formative as they are of the entire "Pork Barrel System" as well as (b) the
intra-relation of post-enactment measures contained within a particular
CDF or PDAF Article, including not only those related to the area of project
identification but also to the areas of fund release and realignment. The
complexity of the issues and the broader legal analyses herein warranted
may be, therefore, considered as a powerful countervailing reason against a
wholesale application of the stare decisis principle.
In addition, the Court observes that the Philconsa ruling was actually
riddled with inherent constitutional inconsistencies which similarly
countervail against a full resort to stare decisis. As may be deduced from the
main conclusions of the case, Philconsa's fundamental premise in allowing
Members of Congress to propose and identify of projects would be that the
said identification authority is but an aspect of the power of appropriation
which has been constitutionally lodged in Congress. From this premise, the
contradictions may be easily seen. If the authority to identify projects is an
aspect of appropriation and the power of appropriation is a form of
legislative power thereby lodged in Congress, then it follows that: (a) it is
Congress which should exercise such authority, and not its individual
Members; (b) such authority must be exercised within the prescribed
153 C h inese Young Men's Christian Association oft he Philippine Islands v. Remington Steel Corporation,
G.R. No. 159422, March 28,2008,550 SCRA 180, 197-198.
154 Philconsa v. Enriquez, supra note 114, at 522.
Decision 34 G.R. Nos. 208566, 208493 &
209251
procedure of law passage and, hence, should not be exercised after the GAA
has already been passed; and (c) such authority, as embodied in the GAA,
has the force of law and, hence, cannot be merely recommendatory. Justice
Vitug's Concurring Opinion in the same case sums up the Philconsa
quandary in this wise: "Neither would it be objectionable for Congress, by
law, to appropriate funds for such specific projects as it may be minded; to
give that authority, however, to the individual members of Congress in
whatever guise, I am afraid, would be constitutionally impermissible." As
the Court now largely benefits from hindsight and current findings on the
matter, among others, the CoA Report, the Court must partially abandon its
previous ruling in Philconsa insofar as it validated the post-enactment
identification authority of Members of Congress on the guise that the
same was merely recommendatory. This postulate raises serious
constitutional inconsistencies which cannot be simply excused on the ground
that such mechanism is "imaginative as it is innovative." Moreover, it must
be pointed out that the recent case of Abakada Guro Party List v.
Purisima155 (Abakada) has effectively overturned Philconsa's allowance of
post-enactment legislator participation in view of the separation of powers
principle.

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