It’s premature for the nation to be satisfied by the decision of the Ombudsman to conduct a preliminary investigation of certain officials of the Aquino administration for wrongdoing in the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
It is premature because Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales does not intend to investigate everyone who is responsible, especially the most responsible of all—President Aquino.
It leaves the nation dissatisfied because it does not cover all of the monstrous irregularity, which involved no less than P147 billion of public money.
The Ombudsman’s action should spare no one.
It should cover the whole lot of responsible officials and recover the whole loot.
This crime is the grossest and boldest ever committed by a sitting government in our country’s history.
Aquino’s ‘good governance’ claims just a joke
Ironically and perversely, President Aquino has touted good governance as the signature achievement of his administration. We say that the depredations under the DAP prove that his mantras “Good governance is good economics” and “Daang matuwid” are nothing but lies.
When the president hosts the summit of APEC leaders next month, we should punctuate every Aquino boast of good governance under his watch with a loud BOO.
When the Ombudsman’s field investigation Office (FIO) filed its report on its work on the DAP, it pinpointed Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and his deputy Mario Relampagos as the ones responsible for the irregular release of P393.7 million from the DAP between 2011 and 2012.
Both the FIO and Ombudsman Morales explicitly excluded from investigation President Aquino, whose signature and approval got the controversial and unconstitutional program going and instigated the havoc done to the national treasury.
A blatant case of double standard
This is a blatant case of double standard, coming from an office whose constitutional duty covers all who hold public office, including the President. Ombudsman Morales has justified the double standard on the grounds that the specific charges of technical malversation and administrative charges cited by the FIO are not impeachable offenses, and because President Aquino can only be indicted on impeachment charges while he is in office.
Yet Aquino’s responsibility and accountability are betrayed by the fact that he went ballistic when the Supreme Court ruled in July 2014 that the DAP was illegal and unconstitutional. A mere observer or accomplice in the crime would not have called attention to himself.
Just as disappointing is the fact that the money to be covered by the preliminary investigation is only P393.7 million of the DAP fund. This is but a pittance of the total DAP fund of P147 billion.
Our people will see these developments for what they are: (1) A case of letting the principal and mastermind go Scott free, and (2) a case of focusing on a few trees and missing the bigger forest of criminality.
Under the Ombudsman’s rules of procedure, an approved report from the FIO would go through a preliminary investigation to be conducted by a special panel of investigators.
Should the Ombudsman approve the special panel’s recommendation to file a case against a respondent-public official, the case can then be elevated for trial by the Sandiganbayan.
This means that we the people are still a very long way from seeing the comeuppance of the administration’s evil genius, Budget Secretary Abad.
Abad’s gloating statement
Abad issued an almost gloating statement in the aftermath of the Ombudsman’s announcement. He said that he welcomed the development, and he maintained that there was no graft and corruption involved during the implementation of the DAP.
He declared: “First, technical malversation does not suggest that the individuals in question committed acts of graft or corruption. Nor does the investigation imply that these individuals used public funds for their personal gain or benefit.”
This is the farthest thing from remorse for the robbery of public money. This is gloating.
We hope Abad’s defiant stance will arouse sufficient anger from Ombudsman Morales so that she will now intensify efforts by her office to determine full accountability for all the criminal wrongdoing and irregularities under the DAP.
She should be incensed because Abad is challenging her very authority as Ombudsman and her ability to bring him before the graft court.
The spectacle of Abad getting away with plunder and sheer badness should not happen before the term of President Aquino ends on June 30 next year.
This also must not happen during the balance of the term of Ombudsman Morales.
Let us not be in doubt as to what is at stake here.
The Ombudsman would be making the sacred principle of honesty in public service a sham, if Abad gets away with being bad, and President Aquino gets away with having initiated with Abad and giving his blessing to this monstrous looting of the public treasury.
The victory which our people won when the Supreme Court declared the DAP illegal and unconstitutional should not be turned into garbage.
She has the full support of the Filipino public. Ombudsman Morales should exact drop by drop full retribution for all wrongs done against the nation under the DAP.