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Sara asks SC to dismiss petitions vs constitutionality of P125-M ‘confidential funds’ 

Vice President Sara Duterte
Rey E. Requejo

Vice President Sara Duterte has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss the three petitions assailing the constitutionality of the transfer of the amount of P125 million by the Office of the President (OP) to the Office of the Vice President (OVP) for use as confidential funds in December 2022.

In a 16-page consolidated comment, Duterte through her counsel, former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza, argued there is no “justiciable controversy” in the petitions that would warrant the Court’s exercise of its power of adjudication.

Mendoza served as solicitor general from 1972 until 1986 during the term of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, father of the sitting President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

According to Mendoza, the petitions do not allege that Duterte exercised “grave abuse of discretion, much less any discretion” in the release of the Contingent Funds for use as confidential funds of the OVP.

“Indeed, the mandate of the Honorable Court does not include the duty to answer all of life’s questions. No question, no matter how interesting or compelling, can be answered by this Court if it cannot be shown that there is an actual and antagonistic assertion of rights by one party against the other in a controversy wherein judicial intervention is unavoidable,” Mendoza said.

The former Solicitor General argued the need for a case or actual controversy before the Court could exercise its judicial power as mandated under Article VIII (Judicial Department), Section 1 of the Constitution.

The said provision states: “Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the party of any branch or instrumentality of the government.”

The allegations of the petitioners, according to Mendoza, do not show actual controversy involving rights, which are legally demandable and enforceable as required by the Constitution.

Duterte’s camp added that the petitioners also failed to show that they will suffer or have suffered any concrete injury resulting from the alleged act committed.

Mendoza said the petitioners simply made a blanket allegation that they are taxpayers or concerned citizens but without the constitutional requirement of justiciability.

“In many cases, the court rejected similar arguments as the petitions above. Clear as day, the Calleja, Monsod and ACT Teachers do not reflect any actual case of controversy nor is there any showing that the petitioners have sustained hardship or adverse injury from the act they complain of,” he added.

Mendoza also reminded the SC of the courts’ policy to avoid ruling on constitutional questions and “to presume that that the acts of the political departments are valid, absent a clear and unmistakable showing to the contrary.”

The subject of the three petitions is Republic Act No. 11639 or the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2022, which was the existing budget at the time Marcos Jr. and Duterte won the presidential and vice-presidential elections.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline “old headline.”

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