The plunder charges filed against President Benigno Aquino 3rd, his two Cabinet members and othet government officials are doomed, administration lawmakers said Thursday.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. of Quezon City as well as Reps. Sherwin Tugna of Citizens Battle Against Corruption party-list and Elipidio Barzaga of Cavite, all lawyers, expressed such sentiments a day after the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) filed plunder complaints vs. President Aquino, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad as well as a number of Agriculture officials for their failure to revoke the accreditation of the fake nongovernment organizations owned by Janet Napoles that benefited from the P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund scam.
Based on the said plunder complaint, the KMP cited that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has accredited three foundations in 2013 namely Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation Inc. (KKAMFI); Gabay at Pag-Asa ng Masa Foundation Inc. (GPMFI), and the Kaupdanan Para sa mga Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KPMFI) even if the Commission on Audit (COA) has long found out that these entities ran by Napoles have been wrongfully granted P700 million worth state-funded PDAF allocation from 2007 to 2009.
“It is a mere propaganda. How can you sue a President for something
that happened transpired during the previous administration of which he is not a part of?,” Belmonte, a lawyer, pointed out, considering that President Aquino only assumed the Presidency in June 30, 2010.
Tugna, who serves as the House Deputy Majority Leader, agreed with the Speaker by underscoring that the complaint has failed to establish that the respondents amassed P50 million or more from public funds which is required for a plunder case to prosper.
“There is no basis as to existence of facts that will constitute plunder. For a plunder charge to stand, there must be a showing or standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt that there was a design to amass wealth through a series of acts. In this case, there was none. The allegations are speculative and based on assumptions,” Tugna stressed in a separate talk.
Barzaga, a member of the National Union Party which is allied with the ruling Liberal Party, then argued that the case is whimsical at best because the President has Presidential immunity from cases on top of the fact that the fund releases to Napoles were made when he was not the Chief Executive yet.
“It will not prosper since there is no sufficient and factual basis. Knowing the President cannot be sued during his term of office, complainants are just making a mockery of our legal processes,” Barzaga argued.
“I would say that that filing
of plunder complaint is a very cheap publicity stunt which will not be helpful to our country,” Barzaga added. LLANESCA T. PANTI