MANILA, July 14, 2014–Following a televised address of President Aquino on Monday, the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged government leaders to practice humility and respect democratic principles so as not to compromise the common good.
“The CBCP prays that our nation will tread the path of peace, and that our national leaders may truly be humble and respectful of our democratic institutions so that our most sacred freedoms and liberties are always upheld,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said.
Villegas called on Filipinos to “hold fast to the basic tenets of the democratic way of life enshrined in our Constitution” and to be always reminded of the Judiciary’s mandate “to interpret the law with definitiveness in the process of resolving justiciable issues.”
“We must respect the Supreme Court. Where there was error, there must be humble admission and immediate rectification,” he added.
The CBCP president made the statement hours after President Aquino addressed the nation in a televised speech where he defended the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and said that it has improved the country in many ways.
With a vote of 13-1-0, the Supreme Court declared parts of the DAP as unconstitutional on July 1.
The high court noted that the DAP has violated the constitution by withdrawing unobligated allotments and declaring them—together with unreleased appropriations—as savings; allowing cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive department to other offices; and funding projects, activities, and programs that were not covered by the GAA.
In defending the DAP against critics, Aquino reiterated Section 39 of the 1987 Administrative Code as the legal basis for its creation:
“Except as otherwise provided in the General Appropriations Act, any savings in the regular appropriations authorized in the General Appropriations Act for programs and projects of any department, office or agency, may, with the approval of the President, be used to cover a deficit in any other item of the regular appropriations….”
Amid controversies surrounding the DAP, Villegas called on the public to respect President Aquino’s opinion on the matter.
“The President has expressed himself on the Supreme Court’s decision in respect to DAP. The President’s views are important and his right to express himself must be respected,” he said.
The CBCP president reminded the public that the rule of law must always be safeguarded for it is a “fundamental requirement” and an “objective condition” of the common good.
“That the Rule of Law is at all times safeguarded is therefore a moral concern. When the Rule of Law is compromised, the common good becomes its victim,” Villegas said. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)