Political Law

Demetrio Demetria vs Manuel Alba

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G.R. No. 71977 – 148 SCRA 208 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Executive Department – Powers of the President – Transfer of Funds – Power of the President to Realign Funds

Demetrio Demetria et al as taxpayers and members of the Batasan Pambansa sought to prohibit Manuel Alba, then Minister of Budget, from disbursing funds pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1177 or the Budget Reform Decree of 1977. Demetria assailed the constitutionality of paragraph 1, Section 44 of the said PD. This Section provides that:

The President shall have the authority to transfer any fund, appropriated for the different departments, bureaus, offices and agencies of the Executive Department, which are included in the General Appropriations Act, to any program, project or activity of any department, bureau, or office included in the General Appropriations Act or approved after its enactment.

Demetria averred that this is unconstitutional for it violates the 1973 Constitution.

ISSUE: Whether or not Paragraph 1, Section 44, of PD 1177 is constitutional.

HELD: No. The Constitution provides that no law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations, however, the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of constitutional commissions may by law be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations.

However, paragraph 1 of Section 44 of PD 1177 unduly overextends the privilege granted under the Constitution. It empowers the President to indiscriminately transfer funds from one department, bureau, office or agency of the Executive Department to any program, project or activity of any department, bureau or office included in the General Appropriations Act or approved after its enactment, without regard as to whether or not the funds to be transferred are actually savings in the item from which the same are to be taken, or whether or not the transfer is for the purpose of augmenting the item to which said transfer is to be made. It does not only completely disregard the standards set in the fundamental law, thereby amounting to an undue delegation of legislative powers, but likewise goes beyond the tenor thereof. Indeed, such constitutional infirmities render the provision in question null and void.

But it should be noted, transfers of savings within one department from one item to another in the GAA may be allowed by law in the interest of expediency and efficiency. There is no transfer from one department to another here.

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Compare with the DAP Case: Araullo vs Aquino III

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