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BELGICA VS EXECUTIVE SECRETARY

In Delos Santos v. CoA,131 a recent case wherein the Court upheld the CoAs disallowance of
irregularly disbursed PDAF funds, it was emphasized that:
The COA is endowed with enough latitude to determine, prevent, and disallow irregular, unnecessary,
excessive, extravagant or unconscionable expenditures of government funds. It is tasked to be
vigilant and conscientious in safeguarding the proper use of the government's, and ultimately the
people's, property. The exercise of its general audit power is among the constitutional mechanisms
that gives life to the check and balance system inherent in our form of government.

In Sanlakas v. Executive Secretary,136 the government had already backtracked on a previous


course of action yet the Court used the "capable of repetition but evading review" exception in order
"to prevent similar questions from re- emerging."137 The situation similarly holds true to these cases.
Indeed, the myriad of issues underlying the manner in which certain public funds are spent, if not
resolved at this most opportune time, are capable of repetition and hence, must not evade judicial
review.
under the classic formulation of Baker v. Carr,139 applies when there is found, among others,
"a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political
department," "a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it" or
"the impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for nonjudicial discretion."

In Estrada v. Desierto,142 the expanded concept of judicial power under the 1987 Constitution and its
effect on the political question doctrine was explained as follows:143
To a great degree, the 1987 Constitution has narrowed the reach of the political question doctrine when it
expanded the power of judicial review of this court not only to settle actual controversies involving rights
which are legally demandable and enforceable but also to determine whether or not there has been a
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of government. Heretofore, the judiciary has focused on the "thou shalt not's" of the
Constitution directed against the exercise of its jurisdiction. With the new provision, however, courts are
given a greater prerogative to determine what it can do to prevent grave abuse of discretion amounting
to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of government. Clearly, the
new provision did not just grant the Court power of doing nothing. x x x (Emphases supplied)
The principle of separation of powers refers to the constitutional demarcation of the three fundamental
powers of government. In the celebrated words of Justice Laurel in Angara v. Electoral Commission,162 it
means that the "Constitution has blocked out with deft strokes and in bold lines, allotment of power to
the executive, the legislative and the judicial departments of the government."163 To the legislative
branch of government, through Congress,164 belongs the power to make laws; to the executive branch
of government, through the President,165 belongs the power to enforce laws; and to the judicial branch
of government, through the Court,166 belongs the power to interpret laws. Because the three great
powers have been, by constitutional design, ordained in this respect, "each department of the
government has exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction, and is supreme within its own

sphere."167 Thus, "the legislature has no authority to execute or construe the law, the executive has no
authority to make or construe the law, and the judiciary has no power to make or execute the law."168
The principle of separation of powers and its concepts of autonomy and independence stem from the
notion that the powers of government must be divided to avoid concentration of these powers in any one
branch; the division, it is hoped, would avoid any single branch from lording its power over the other
branches or the citizenry.169 To achieve this purpose, the divided power must be wielded by co-equal
branches of government that are equally capable of independent action in exercising their respective
mandates. Lack of independence would result in the inability of one branch of government to check the
arbitrary or self-interest assertions of another or others.170
In Guingona, Jr. v. Hon. Carague173 (Guingona, Jr.), the Court explained that the phase of
budget execution "covers the various operational aspects of budgeting" and accordingly
includes "the evaluation of work and financial plans for individual activities," the "regulation
and release of funds" as well as all "other related activities" that comprise the budget
execution cycle.

in the case of People v. Maceren200 as follows:


The grant of the rule-making power to administrative agencies is a relaxation of the principle of
separation of powers and is an exception to the nondelegation of legislative powers. Administrative
regulations or "subordinate legislation" calculated to promote the public interest are necessary because
of "the growing complexity of modern life, the multiplication of the subjects of governmental regulations,
and the increased difficulty of administering the law."
In Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, the US Supreme Court characterized the
Presidents item-power as "a salutary check upon the legislative body, calculated to guard the
community against the effects of factions, precipitancy, or of any impulse unfriendly to the public good,
which may happen to influence a majority of that body"; phrased differently, it is meant to "increase the
chances in favor of the community against the passing of bad laws, through haste, inadvertence, or
design."
In the case of Bengzon v. Secretary of Justice of the Philippine Islands,210 the US Supreme Court
characterized an item of appropriation as follows:
An item of an appropriation bill obviously means an item which, in itself, is a specific appropriation of
money, not some general provision of law which happens to be put into an appropriation bill. (Emphases
supplied)
On this premise, it may be concluded that an appropriation bill, to ensure that the President may be able
to exercise his power of item veto, must contain "specific appropriations of money" and not only "general
provisions" which provide for parameters of appropriation.
The above-quoted provisions of the Constitution and the LGC reveal the policy of the State to empower
local government units (LGUs) to develop and ultimately, become self-sustaining and effective
contributors to the national economy. As explained by the Court in Philippine Gamefowl Commission v.
Intermediate Appellate Court:228
This is as good an occasion as any to stress the commitment of the Constitution to the policy of local
autonomy which is intended to provide the needed impetus and encouragement to the development of

our local political subdivisions as "self - reliant communities." In the words of Jefferson, "Municipal
corporations are the small republics from which the great one derives its strength." The vitalization of
local governments will enable their inhabitants to fully exploit their resources and more important, imbue
them with a deepened sense of involvement in public affairs as members of the body politic. This
objective could be blunted by undue interference by the national government in purely local affairs which
are best resolved by the officials and inhabitants of such political units. The decision we reach today
conforms not only to the letter of the pertinent laws but also to the spirit of the Constitution.229
(Emphases and underscoring supplied)