House Bill No. 10900, the General Appropriation Bill of 1994 (GAB of 1994), was passed and approved by both houses of Congress on December 17, 1993. As passed, it imposed conditions and limitations on certain items of appropriations in the proposed budget previously submitted by the President. It also authorized members of Congress to propose and identify projects in the “pork barrels” allotted to them and to realign their respective operating budgets.
Pursuant to the procedure on the passage and enactment of bills as prescribed by the Constitution, Congress presented the said bill to the President for consideration and approval.
On December 30, 1993, the President signed the bill into law, and declared the same to have become Republic Act NO. 7663, entitled “AN ACT APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR THE OPERATION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINES FROM JANUARY ONE TO DECEMBER THIRTY ONE, NINETEEN HUNDRED AND NINETY-FOUR, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES” (GAA of 1994). On the same day, the President delivered his Presidential Veto Message, specifying the provisions of the bill he vetoed and on which he imposed certain conditions, as follows:
1. Provision on Debt Ceiling, on the ground that “this debt reduction scheme cannot be validly done through the 1994 GAA.” And that “appropriations for payment of public debt, whether foreign or domestic, are automatically appropriated pursuant to the Foreign Borrowing Act and Section 31 of P.D. No. 1177 as reiterated under Section 26, Chapter 4, Book VI of E.O. No. 292, the Administrative Code of 1987.
2. Special provisions which authorize the use of income and the creation, operation and maintenance of revolving funds in the appropriation for State Universities and Colleges (SUC’s),
3. Provision on 70% (administrative)/30% (contract) ratio for road maintenance.
4. Special provision on the purchase by the AFP of medicines in compliance with the Generics Drugs Law (R.A. No. 6675).
5. The President vetoed the underlined proviso in the appropriation for the modernization of the AFP of the Special Provision No. 2 on the “Use of Fund,” which requires the prior approval of the Congress for the release of the corresponding modernization funds, as well as the entire Special Provision No. 3 on the “Specific Prohibition” which states that the said Modernization Fund “shall not be used for payment of six (6) additional S-211 Trainer planes, 18 SF-260 Trainer planes and 150 armored personnel carriers”
6. New provision authorizing the Chief of Staff to use savings in the AFP to augment pension and gratuity funds.
7. Conditions on the appropriation for the Supreme Court, Ombudsman, COA, and CHR, the Congress.
whether or not the conditions imposed by the President in the items of the GAA of 1994: (a) for the Supreme Court, (b) Commission on Audit (COA), (c) Ombudsman, (d) Commission on Human Rights, (CHR), (e) Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGU’S) and (f) State Universities and Colleges (SUC’s) are constitutional; whether or not the veto of the special provision in the appropriation for debt service and the automatic appropriation of funds therefore is constitutional
The veto power, while exercisable by the President, is actually a part of the legislative process. There is, therefore, sound basis to indulge in the presumption of validity of a veto. The burden shifts on those questioning the validity thereof to show that its use is a violation of the Constitution.
The vetoed provision on the debt servicing is clearly an attempt to repeal Section 31 of P.D. No. 1177 (Foreign Borrowing Act) and E.O. No. 292, and to reverse the debt payment policy. As held by the court in Gonzales, the repeal of these laws should be done in a separate law, not in the appropriations law.
In the veto of the provision relating to SUCs, there was no undue discrimination when the President vetoed said special provisions while allowing similar provisions in other government agencies. If some government agencies were allowed to use their income and maintain a revolving fund for that purpose, it is because these agencies have been enjoying such privilege before by virtue of the special laws authorizing such practices as exceptions to the “one-fund policy” (e.g., R.A. No. 4618 for the National Stud Farm, P.D. No. 902-A for the Securities and Exchange Commission; E.O. No. 359 for the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service).
The veto of the second paragraph of Special Provision No. 2 of the item for the DPWH is unconstitutional. The Special Provision in question is not an inappropriate provision which can be the subject of a veto. It is not alien to the appropriation for road maintenance, and on the other hand, it specifies how the said item shall be expended — 70% by administrative and 30% by contract.
The Special Provision which requires that all purchases of medicines by the AFP should strictly comply with the formulary embodied in the National Drug Policy of the Department of Health is an “appropriate” provision. Being directly related to and inseparable from the appropriation item on purchases of medicines by the AFP, the special provision cannot be vetoed by the President without also vetoing the said item.
The requirement in Special Provision No. 2 on the “use of Fund” for the AFP modernization program that the President must submit all purchases of military equipment to Congress for its approval, is an exercise of the “congressional or legislative veto.” However the case at bench is not the proper occasion to resolve the issues of the validity of the legislative veto as provided in Special Provisions Nos. 2 and 3 because the issues at hand can be disposed of on other grounds. Therefore, being “inappropriate” provisions, Special Provisions Nos. 2 and 3 were properly vetoed.
Furthermore, Special Provision No. 3, prohibiting the use of the Modernization fund for payment of the trainer planes and armored personnel carriers, which have been contracted for by the AFP, is violative of the Constitutional prohibition on the passage of laws that impair the obligation of contracts (Art. III, Sec. 10), more so, contracts entered into by the Government itself. The veto of said special provision is therefore valid.
The Special Provision, which allows the Chief of Staff to use savings to augment the pension fund for the AFP being managed by the AFP Retirement and Separation Benefits System is violative of Sections 25(5) and 29(1) of the Article VI of the Constitution.
Regarding the deactivation of CAFGUS, we do not find anything in the language used in the challenged Special Provision that would imply that Congress intended to deny to the President the right to defer or reduce the spending, much less to deactivate 11,000 CAFGU members all at once in 1994. But even if such is the intention, the appropriation law is not the proper vehicle for such purpose. Such intention must be embodied and manifested in another law considering that it abrades the powers of the Commander-in-Chief and there are existing laws on the creation of the CAFGU’s to be amended.
On the conditions imposed by the President on certain provisions relating to appropriations to the Supreme Court, constitutional commissions, the NHA and the DPWH, there is less basis to complain when the President said that the expenditures shall be subject to guidelines he will issue. Until the guidelines are issued, it cannot be determined whether they are proper or inappropriate. Under the Faithful Execution Clause, the President has the power to take “necessary and proper steps” to carry into execution the law. These steps are the ones to be embodied in the guidelines.