• President cleared of plunder over cash-transfer program

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    The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday threw out a petition seeking to determine criminal liability of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, as well as Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, over the government’s conditional cash-transfer (CCT) program.

    During en banc deliberations, the SC ruled in a resolution that the petition filed by Romeo C. Bayogos must be dismissed for lack of form and substance.

    “The court dismissed for lack of form and substance the one-page petition seeking resort to the court to determine the liability of respondents for the crime of plunder,” the resolution read.

    The High Court also ruled that the case is dismissible because the tribunal has no jurisdiction to determine the liability of the respondents and that it should be the proper government agencies that must handle the case.

    “The petition was also dismissed because the court has no jurisdiction to determine the liability of the respondents without prior appropriate proceedings,” it said.

    Under the law, it is the Office of the Ombudsman that determines liability of government officials over wrongdoing while they are holding public office.

    But in the case of the President of the Philippines, the liability can only be established by Congress through impeachment proceedings.

    Bayogos’ petition sought to determine misuse of Malampaya funds for political purposes and of lawmakers’ pork-barrel funds despite the SC declaring such funds illegal.

    It also sought the SC intervention to determine if the funds were diverted to non- government agencies and to the CCT program.

    The tribunal did not give credence to this pleading.

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