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The Discovered Section 49.

Much is being said of Section 49 of the Administrative Code which gives to the President broad powers to
transfer funds. It is even suggested that had the Supreme Court made use of this provision it would have
decided the DAP case differently and in favor of President Aquino.
I believe it is safe to assume that the Supreme Court is aware of the existence of Section 49. The Supreme
Court is also aware that the Code where Section 49 is found is an Executive Order of President Aquino
issued while she still had legislative power before Congress became operative. It antedates the 1987
Constitution. Statutory provisions and executive orders antedating the Constitution and incompatible with the
Constitution no longer have effect.
More importantly the Supreme Court is aware of the constitutional provision on the transfer of funds. It is
found in Article VI, Section 25 which says: 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 appropriations law for their respective offices from
savings in other items of their respective appropriations.
The law authorizing augmentation transfers is usually found in the current Appropriation Law. To understand
the constitutional provision one must know that the budget for the various offices consists of items. An item
is an amount of money to be used for a specific purpose. When the purpose of the item has been achieved
and some money is still left over, such leftover is the saving which may be transferred to augment other
items in the budget for the same office.
The law cites three instances which give rise to savings. They are balances (i) still available after the
completion or final discontinuance or abandonment of the work, activity or purpose for which the
appropriation is authorized; (ii) from appropriations balances arising from unpaid compensation and related
costs pertaining to vacant positions and leaves of absence without pay; and (iii) from appropriations
balances realized from the implementation of measures resulting in improved systems and efficiencies and
thus enabled agencies to meet and deliver the required or planned targets, programs and services approved
in this Act at a lesser cost.
There is no authorization for what is called cross border transfer, that is, the transfer of savings in one office
or department to another office or department. Thus savings in the Presidents budget may not be moved to
other departments or offices, e.g., to Congress, to the judiciary, or to a constitutional commission.
The discovered Section 49 cannot fit into this constitutional limitation.