SEVERAL members of the House of Representatives minority bloc filed a petition before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the P449.5-billion unprogrammed funds in the 2024 budget.
In a petition for certiorari and prohibition filed on Monday, Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay 1st District), Rep. Mujiv Hataman (Basilan Lone District), and Rep. Gabriel Bordado (Camarines Sur 3rd District) said the unprogrammed funds allocated by Congress constitute a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of congressional jurisdiction
They claimed that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. only proposed a ceiling of P281.908 billion for unprogrammed appropriations in the 2024 National Expenditure Program (NEP) and that the constitution prohibits Congress from exceeding the ceiling of the appropriations proposed by the President.
“[Th]e unprogrammed appropriations are used as a sanctuary for pet and partisan projects, mixed with substantial allocations, and a graveyard for replaced or disfavored projects originally under the programmed appropriations,” they said.
The petitioners said that the excess of unprogrammed appropriations is “constitutionally infirm.” Also, the petition said that the P449.5-billion appropriations and their probable release for implementation were “premeditated” by the leadership of the committee on Appropriations chaired by Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Elizaldy Co, named as one of the respondents in the petition, who recommended the plenary approval of House Bill 9513.
The bill, approved on third reading in the House of Representatives and pending in the Senate, “authorizes the sequestration of purported excess income of Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) to fund the unprogrammed appropriations.”
Aside from Co, other named respondents in the petition include Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, and Senate Committee on Finance chairman Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara.
Also named respondents were Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, and former national treasurer and current Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Monetary Board member Rosalia de Leon.
The petitioners sought a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction barring the respondents from “funding, releasing, and implementing the constitutionally infirm excess appropriation of P449.5B over the proposal of the President of P289.1B in unprogrammed appropriations.
“They also asked the high court to issue a decision nullifying the excess funds and the issuance of a writ of prohibition that would prohibit the funding, releasing, and implementing the excess items of expenditure.