“This Court will issue a decision by November to give Congress time to digest our decision while crafting the 2014 budget,” Carpio said.
During Thursday’s oral arguments, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza urged the SC to partially lift the temporary restraining order so that the government can release the remaining 2013 PDAF for scholars and indigent sick people.
“We appeal in behalf of the scholars and indigent recipients of medical aid, they were not a party to any misuse and they are not a party to any corruption…Please give them the benefit of the doubt,” Jardeleza said.
However, Carpio said if PDAF has been abolished, there is no need to lift a TRO.
Jardeleza admitted PDAF was suspended only for soft projects.
Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo said Jardeleza is making the justices feel that they are a little sympathetic to scholars and those needing medical assistance.
“What about other sources of fund like the Presidential Social Fund or the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office,” Del Castillo asked.
Jardeleza admitted it can be utilized as well.
“I do not know why you’re saying that they [those needing medical assistance] will die. PCSO has a program for indigent patients…Presidential Social Fund must be billions. The President has a lot of savings in the social fund and other items can just be realigned. I am amazed that so much funds are flowing [in the PDAF]…This [funds for scholars and medical assistance] is not a problem without a solution…It’s just a political will,” Carpio said.
On spending the Malampaya Fund, the SC magistrates asked what is the constitutional basis of the law that allows the President to spend the Malampaya Fund.
“But there is nothing that tells us how many energy projects or hydroelectric plants have been built,” Associate Justice Roberto Abad said.
Abad added what the President has is “just a lump sum amount.”
Under Presidential Decree 910, the Malampaya Fund can be used for other purposes other than the energy programs.
However, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said “there is no purpose if the purpose is everything.”
The SC will continue its oral arguments on the legality of PDAF on Oct. 17, 2013 at 2 p.m.
Likewise, the SC will conduct a separate oral arguments on the legality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program on Oct. 22, 2013 at 2 p.m. (PNA)