Bar Q and A #8

a.) NO, the failure of Congress to pass the budget will not paralyze the operations of the Section 25(7), Article VI of the Constitution provides: "If, by the end of any fiscal year, the Congress shall have failed to pass the general appropriations bill for the ensuing fiscal year, the general appropriations law for the preceding fiscal year shall be deemed reenacted and shall remain in force and effect until the general appropriations bill is passed by the Congress.

b.) Yes, the provision authorizing the Chief of Staff, with the approval of the Secretary of National Defense, to use savings to cover the losses suffered by the AFP Retirement and Separation Benefits System is Section 25(5], Article VI of the Constitution provides: "No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; however, the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, 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 appropriation law for their respective offices from savings in other Items of their respective appropriations."

In Philippine Constitution v. Enriquez, 235 SCRA 506, 544, the Supreme Court held that a provision in the General Appropriation Act authorizing the Chief of Staff to use savings to augment the funds of the AFP Retirement and Separation Benefits Systems was unconstitutional. "While Section 25(5) allows as an exception the realignment of savings to augment items in the general appropriations law for the executive branch, such right must and can be exercised only by the President pursuant to a specific law."

The following are the limitations on the power of Congress to enact the GAA:

  1. It must be devoted to a public purpose;

  2. The sum authorized to be released must be determinate or at least determinable;

  3. Congress may not increase appropriations recommended by the President for the operations of the government;

  4. Form, content and manner of preparation of budget shall be provided by law;

  5. No provision or enactment shall be embraced in the bill unless it releases specifically to some particular appropriations therein;

  6. Procedure for approving appropriations for Congress shall be the same as that of other departments in order to prevent sub rosa appropriations by Congress; and

  7. Prohibition against transfer of appropriations from one branch (judiciary, legislative, and executive) to another.

According to Section 28(2), Article VI of the Constitution, Congress may, by law, authorize the President to fix within specified limits, and subject to such limitations and restrictions it may impose, tariff rates, import and export quotas,  tonnage and wharfage dues and other duties or imposts within the framework of the national development program of the Government.

1.) Option 1 is not viable in as much as the House of Representatives, from which the Appropriations Act originated and to which the President must have returned the law, is unwilling to override the presidential There is, therefore, no basis for the Senate to even consider the possibility of overriding the President's veto. Under the Constitution the vote of two-third of all the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, voting separately, will be needed to override the presidential veto.

2.) It is not feasible to question the constitutionality of the veto before the Supreme In Gonzales v. Macaraig, 191 SCRA 152, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a similar veto. Under Article VI, Sec. 27(2) of the Constitution, a distinct and severable part of the General Appropriations act may be the subject of a separate veto. Moreover, the vetoed provision does not relate to any particular appropriation and is more an expression of a congressional policy in respect of augmentation from savings than a budgetary provision. It is therefore an inappropriate provision and it should be treated as an item for purposes of the veto power of the President. The Supreme Court should uphold the validity of the veto in the event the question is brought before it.

a.) Under Section 27(1), Article VI of the Constitution, a bill becomes a law even without the signature of the President if he vetoed it but his veto was overridden by two-thirds vote of all the members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives and If the President failed to communicate his veto to the House from which the bill originated, within thirty days after the date of receipt of the bill by the President.

b.) As held in Tanada v. Tuvera (146 SCRA 446), a law must be published as a condition for its effectivity and in accordance with Article 2 of the Civil Code, it shall take effect fifteen days following the completion of its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation unless it is otherwise provided. (Executive Order No. 292, Revised Administrative Code of 1989)

a.) As held by the Court in Astorga v. Villegas (G.R. No. L-23475 April 30, 1974), conclusive proof of a bill's due enactment, required, it is said, by the respect due to a co- equal department of the government, is neutralized in this case by the fact that the Senate President declared his signature on the bill to be invalid and issued a subsequent clarification that the invalidation of his signature meant that the bill he had signed had never been approved by the Senate. Obviously this declaration should be accorded even greater respect than the attestation it invalidated, which it did for a reason that is undisputed in fact and indisputable in logic. As far as Congress itself is concerned, there is nothing sacrosanct in the certification made by the presiding officers. It is merely a mode of authentication. The lawmaking process in Congress ends when the bill is approved by both Houses, and the certification does not add to the validity of the bill or cure any defect already present upon its passage.

b.) The President can withdraw his signature. The journal of the proceedings of each House of Congress is no ordinary record. The Constitution requires it. The Court is not asked to incorporate such amendments into the alleged law, which admittedly is a risky undertaking, but to declare that the bill was not duly enacted and therefore did not become law. In the face of the manifest error committed and subsequently rectified by the President of the Senate and by the Chief Executive, for the Court to perpetuate that error by disregarding such rectification and holding that the erroneous bill has become law would be to sacrifice truth to fiction and bring about mischievous consequences not intended by the law-making body. (Astorga v. Villegas)

Under Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution, the grounds for impeachment are culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, and betrayal of public trust.