Neptali Gonzales vs Catalino Macaraig, Jr.

G.R. No. 87636 – 269 Phil. 472 – 191 SCRA 452 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Executive Department – Powers of the President – Veto Power – Inappropriate Provision in an Appropriation Bill is Treated as an Item which may be Subject to a Veto

Neptali Gonzales, together with 22 other senators, assailed the constitutionality of Cory’s veto of Section 55 of the 1989 Appropriations Bill (Sec 55 FY ’89, and subsequently of its counterpart Section 16 of the 1990 Appropriations Bill (Sec 16 FY ’90). Gonzalez averred the following: (1) the President’s line-veto power as regards appropriation bills is limited to item/s and does not cover provision/s; therefore, she exceeded her authority when she vetoed Section 55 (FY ’89) and Section 16 (FY ’90) which are provisions; (2) when the President objects to a provision of an appropriation bill, she cannot exercise the item-veto power but should veto the entire bill; (3) the item-veto power does not carry with it the power to strike out conditions or restrictions for that would be legislation, in violation of the doctrine of separation of powers; and (4) the power of augmentation in Article VI, Section 25 [5] of the 1987 Constitution, has to be provided for by law and, therefore, Congress is also vested with the prerogative to impose restrictions on the exercise of that power.

ISSUE: Whether or not the President exceeded the item-veto power accorded by the Constitution. Or differently put, has the President the power to veto “provisions” of an Appropriations Bill.

HELD: SC ruled that Congress cannot include in a general appropriations bill matters that should be properly enacted in separate legislation, and if it does that, the inappropriate provisions inserted by it must be treated as an “item,” which can be vetoed by the President in the exercise of his item-veto power. The SC went one step further and rules that even assuming arguendo that “provisions” are beyond the executive power to veto, and Section 55 (FY ’89) and Section 16 (FY ’90) were not “provisions” in the budgetary sense of the term, they are “inappropriate provisions” that should be treated as “items” for the purpose of the President’s veto power.

Read full text.