A Malacañang official on Sunday said President Benigno Aquino 3rd and members of his Cabinet are ready to face whatever charges would be slapped against them in the future.
“If we will be accused and be held responsible [for anything], that is part of our job,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. added.
In an interview aired over state-run Radyo ng Bayan, Coloma was asked to react on a statement made by recently disqualified Laguna Gov. Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito that his family is being politically persecuted.
Ejercito, who was unseated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for campaign overspending, said he wants to see Aquino in jail after his term, vowing “babalik ang agila [the eagle shall return]in 2016.”
Coloma admitted that the President, his Cabinet and other officials in his administration are all “accountable” under the Constitution.
“President Aquino and all those who serve in government are all accountable officers. Under the Constitution, a public office is a public trust,” he said, adding that the President and his men are expected to abide by the law and the basic principles of good governance.
“All our actions should comply with the Constitution and other laws of the Republic. We know these basic principles which we use as guide in the performance of our duties,” Coloma said.
Months ago, a militant group filed plunder charges before the Office of the Ombudsman against Aquino, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and 10 others for their alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
Pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles and her brother John Lim, and pork scam whistleblower Merlina Suñas were also named respondents.
Based on audit reports of the National Agri-Business Corp. or Nabcor, a government corporation under the Agriculture department, at least P1.35 billion in pork barrel funds was misused from 2007 to 2011.
Government auditors said the biggest chunk of the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel of lawmakers was coursed through Nabcor.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas explained that the President was included in the complaint by virtue of the “Doctrine of Qualified Political Agency,” wherein acts committed by department secretaries under the executive department are deemed acts of the President.
No criminal complaint against the President, however, can flourish while he is in office because he is immune from suit.
The Aquino administration is also expected to face a slew of charges in connection with implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which was used in justifying quick releases of “savings” from slow-moving projects to fast-moving ones.
But the Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling in July, declared parts of the program as unconstitutional, especially on matters of “cross-border” fund releases.