TC rejects knocking the barrilito

The Constitutional Court (TC) ruled that it cannot act against the Senatorial Provincial Management Fund, known as “el barrilito,” the significant extra money legislators have assigned themselves.

The Constitutional judges say that in the appeal to declare the extra funds violate the Constitution, the plaintiffs, the Fundación Derecho, Educación, Ciudadanía y Democracia (Fundación DEECIR) and Finetta A. Castillo Quiñones did not invoke the nullity of the administrative act but rather the benefit itself, which the court says is beyond the direct control of constitutionality exercised by the Constitutional Court. The TC says the Senate administratively approved the allotment of the resources for social assistance. The senators can use the resources at their discretion.

Furthermore, the Constitutional Court says that the non-profit did not complete the documentation for its incorporation with the Attorney General or the Tax Agency.

The TC states that Article 185 (paragraph #1) of the Dominican Constitution states that the direct action of unconstitutionality is reserved exclusively to challenge laws, decrees, regulations, resolutions and ordinances.

Guzman & Ariza English Version of the Constitution:
“Article 185.- Powers. The Constitutional Court shall have non-appealable jurisdiction to decide:
1) Direct actions to declare the unconstitutionality of laws, decrees, regulations, resolutions and ordinances, at the request of the President of the Republic, of a third of the members of the Senate or of the Chamber of Deputies, or of any person with a legally protected interest;
2) The preventive control of international treaties before their ratification by Congress;
3) Conflicts of jurisdiction between the branches of government, at the request of one of the parties;
4) Any other matter determined by law.

The Constitutional Court clarified that the Senatorial Provincial Management Fund, better known as “El Barrilito, is not a law, decree, regulation, resolution or ordinance, but a social assistance fund available to the Senate of the Republic, whose funds come from the general budget of the state and from which each senator is assigned a monthly amount, to be used by the senatorial office in activities of social and institutional assistance, as well as to attend and respond to the requests for assistance received by the communities they represent.

The Fundación Derecho, Educación, Ciudadanía y Democracia (Fundación DEECIR) and Finetta A. Castillo Quiñones considered in their request for a declaration of unconstitutionality that the resources granted to each senator, which in some cases reach up to 900 thousand pesos a month, in addition to their salaries, violate the Constitution of the Republic regarding the functions of the legislators.

The claim stipulated that there are already other institutions in government responsible to carry out the functions for which the senators created the “barrilito.” In addition, the claim argued that the senators are not empowered to receive money and oversee it simultaneously.

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Diario Libre

7 April 2022