Dante Jimenez, Chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), is right. President Benigno S. Cojuangco Aquino 3rd could be held liable for trying to influence the Sandiganbayan when he appealed to the justices of the anti-graft court to consider Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile’s advance age in determining where the indicted senator should be detained while on trial for plunder.
Jimenez said what the President did was “influence-peddling” because the Sandiganbayan Third Division is still “determining probable cause” and if it so determines would then issue a warrant of arrest for Enrile.
Why do the President and his favorite people commit faux pas like this? Is it because they are ignorant of the law? Or is it simply that they don’t care what the laws and the rules are and they just want to do what they feel like doing–the President behaving like an absolute monarch of old and the officials under him like courtiers?
It must be a combination of both reasons.
They have acted as if they are above the law. And they deal with people they don’t like, or are below their station, patronizingly, like the feared and kowtowed-to landlord of the hacienda humoring his peasants. That was how the President dealt with that poor Yolanda victim businessman who was whining to him about his sufferings and losses only to be told in an amused tone, “Pero buhay ka pa!” (But you’re still alive!)
Have the President and his men convinced themselves that they are God’s instruments to give the Filipinos a better life, a life of prosperity by making corruption disappear? That, after all, is what the President’s rallying message is: “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” (There is no poverty where there is no corruption) and therefore we should all follow him and his party on the “Daang Matuwid” (The Righteous Path.)
Thus convinced, they have decided that they are above the law.
They have arrested former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. They bribed the senators to make sure that former Chief Justice Renato Corona got convicted—and ousted. They allowed the congressmen and the senators to enjoy the pillage of the PDAF/pork barrel funds. And when there was no more pork barrel, the President and the Budget Secretary created the Disbursement Acceleration Program, or DAP, so billions could still be available for the President to shower on the lawmakers.
But the DAP was just as bad as the creating on paper non-existent communities of poor folk to be given assistance, totaling billions of pesos, through non-existent civic associations and non-government organizations.
For the billions that became available through the DAP came from projects whose schedules of implementation were suspended or slowed down so that funds allocated for those real projects could become “savings.” Thereby the President was able to lay his hands on billions that he could distribute to those that needed to be persuaded to do his will with gifts of funds.
The problem with the invented DAP method of raising funds is not only that the funds were used to bribe those the President wanted to influence into taking his crooked “Daang Matuwid.” The problem is also that neither Budget Secretary Abad nor his superior the President are legally allowed to transfer funds from projects that are halted or suspended to just anybody or to any new project. The so-called “savings” from suspended projects could only be used for the same project if resumed or something similar—not re-allocated for use in projects of a totally different nature and under totally different agencies.
It is a violation of the Constitution to do what the President and Secretary Abad did in creating the DAP and in allocating (only the Congress can allocate funds) and then disposing of the illegally gathered DAP funds.
But they did it—and they still feel no remorse. Because they are convinced that they are above the law and they can do what they feel like doing.