IT is laudable and encouraging that the Supreme Court decided last week to give due course to the citizens’ petition for immediate action against officials behind the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the misuse of the pork barrel or PDAF by asking the Ombudsman to comment on the petition.
In issuing the order, the Supremes were not hampered by worries about the feelings of the sitting president. Instead of voting for political expediency, it declared that decency in government must come first. For this is as it should be. And this is what our people have long been craving for in this country.
Specifically, the SC ordered Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to comment on the petition that seeks the issuance of a judicial order that will compel the Ombudsman to investigate the authors, proponents and implementers of the disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and pursue the investigation and prosecution of persons involved in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
This is a huge step forward because until the SC decided to accept the case, we the people had been consigned to living with the seeming impunity (exemption from punishment) of high public officials for crimes in their official conduct, as no investigations and no charges were being filed against them despite decisions already made by the High Court on the illegality of the DAP and PDAF.
If anyone should be mad about the inaction, it is the SC because its decisions that are being ignored.
We have watched with frustration as Budget Secretary Florencio Abad has continued his rape of the budget, and sleeps well with his loot intact, while the public suffers from the miseries of misgovernance and government corruption.
With this case going forward, the nation now knows that President Aquino, regardless of his presidential immunity, will be investigated for his critical part in the depredations of the DAP and PDAF.
If the petition for mandamus is granted, the Ombudsman and the justice department must perform their statutory duty to probe Aquino for impeachment purposes, and to investigate Abad, Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. for their respective roles in facilitating such a massive looting of the public treasury.
There is no question here that the president can be investigated by the Ombudsman for “any serious misconduct in office.” His so-called presidential immunity does not exempt him because no one is above the law.
Within the high court, there is one thorn which the public should worry about. Among the justices, Junior Associate Justice Marvic Leonen showed once again his total subservience to President Aquino, who appointed him to his post after negotiating the infamous Comprehensive Agreementr on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
Leonen pushed for the immediate junking of the petition, but he was totally swamped by his colleagues who believe that Aquino, like all other officials, must be subjected to investigation – even if the investigation will be conducted by officials who owe their positions to him, namely Ombudsman Morales and Justice Secretary De Lima.
Justice Leonen misunderstands the institution that he is fortunate to be a member of. He has not realize yet that temperamentally and judiciously, the Court has decisively moved towards the affirmation of decency in government and the rejection of immorality in public service. It will consistently do the right thing when asked to rule on an issue vital to the public interest.
We pray he, like the Chief Justice, herself an Aquino appointee, learns to value the dignity and vital role of the Supreme Court in keeping our Republic and its institutions alive and well by being a fount of wisdom and civic virtue.