• The final nail in Daang Matuwid’s coffin

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    THE recent decision of the Supreme Court (SC) acquitting former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of plunder charges over the alleged misuse of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) intelligence funds has erased one of the last vestiges of the “daang matuwid” administration from our political system.

    We recall how during his administration, former President Benigno Aquino 3rd kept harping on the success of his administration’s anti-corruption campaign, frequently citing the hospital arrest of his predecessor. Obviously, Aquino relished Arroyo’s incarceration as a major achievement of his “daang matuwid” government.

    With the past administration making Arroyo the poster child for all the ills that befell our country, the SC’s junking of the only remaining plunder charge against her is a slap on the face of Aquino. It also confirms what many have suspected all along—that Arroyo had been illegally and hastily detained on trumped-up charges.

    First off, the SC noted in its ruling that all of the alleged conspirators (except for Arroyo and PCSO Budget Officer Benigno Aguas) have been granted bail by the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan after finding that the evidence of guilt against them was not strong.

    The SC also said: “To start with, its conclusion that GMA [Gloria Macapagal Arroyo] had been the mastermind of plunder was plainly conjectural and outrightly unfounded considering that the Information [i.e., charge sheet] did not aver at all that she had been the mastermind… The law on plunder requires that a particular public officer must be identified as the one who amassed, acquired or accumulated ill-gotten wealth.”

    The SC stated that “the (plunder) law requires in the [Information] for plunder against several individuals that there must be a main plunderer and her co-conspirators … but that fact must be properly alleged and duly proven by the Prosecution”—which they never did.

    Since 10 persons have been accused of amassing, accumulating and/or acquiring ill-gotten wealth aggregating P365,997,915, the SC explained that “it would be improbable that the crime charged was plunder if none of them was alleged to be the main plunderer [since]each of the 10 accused would account for the aliquot amount of only P36,599,791.50, or exactly [one-tenth] of the alleged aggregate ill-gotten wealth, which is far below the [P50-million] threshold value of ill-gotten wealth required for plunder.”

    As expected, Arroyo’s acquittal didn’t go down well with ex-President Aquino.

    “Reviewing RA 1169 [i.e., the PCSO Charter] and the actions approved by Mrs. Arroyo, one may wonder: were such acts allowable under the law? To answer this question, we can actually glean the spirit of the law in the same Charter, which has penalties for those who utilize PCSO funds beyond what is enumerated,” Aquino said.

    “Section 8 of the PCSO Charter states: “The following shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than one month and not more than three years… Any officer or employee of a hospital or other charitable or hygienic institution or organization who uses funds obtained from the Office under this Act for purposes other than those herein authorized,” Aquino added.

    But following Aquino’s line of reasoning, the worst offense that can be imputed against Arroyo would be the “unauthorized use of funds” under the PCSO Charter, which carries a penalty of just one month to three years imprisonment. That’s a far cry from the non-bailable plunder charges that Aquino’s allies brought against Arroyo.

    Aquino’s response also seems to indicate that he knew very well that the plunder charge against Arroyo would not stick but he nonetheless used the vast powers and influence of his office to ensure that Arroyo would be jailed during his term, by hook or by crook.

    “Now I ask: by ordering the release and exoneration of Mrs. Arroyo, what is the Supreme Court saying: that nothing anomalous transpired? That no crime happened? That no one should be held to account? That the funds were used properly?” Aquino argued in his press statement.

    Apparently, Aquino and his advisers don’t get the point.

    What the SC ruling merely said was that the evidence that the prosecution (i.e., the Ombudsman) had produced was not sufficient to establish the guilt of Arroyo for the crime of plunder. This is based on the principle in criminal law that the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt lies with the prosecution, and they must establish that fact beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact, the defendant does not even have to present any evidence to prove his or her innocence.

    The truth is Aquino has nobody to blame for the outcome of the PCSO plunder case but himself. In his overzealousness to put his arch nemesis behind bars, Aquino tolerated, if not encouraged, the indiscriminate filing of several non-bailable cases against Arroyo, no matter how flimsy, inadequate or flawed the evidence may be. And despite having all the resources of government behind him, Aquino never bothered to look for the one key player—PCSO General Manager Rosario Uriarte.

    Many of our countrymen are now hoping that those filing cases (this time) against Aquino and his allies can do a much better job.

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    19 Comments

      • The total is nine justices on the supreme court who do not understand their job or the constitution.

        9 justices allowed Poe to run for president even tho she is a foundling and was a American citizen until 2012.

    1. Leodegardo Pruna on

      P-Noy must be wondering where he failed in his administration. First, he believed in his Hyatt 10 club, his adoption of his mom’s scheming vengeance attitude, his untruthfulness, his out of reality style, etc. Could he be sleeping soundly at night? He could be dreaming of GMA to do it. God bless the Philippines.

    2. Ang Tuwad na Daan, bow! sa Plunder case dapat direct na nakinabang ang akusado sa kaban ng bayan at hindi sapat ang pagpirma niya sa dokumento sapagkat common nang ginagawa ito ng executive brance na pumirma o mag aapruba sa fund ng ahensiya upang maigamit sa mga public services at kung ito man ay nagamit sa anomang anomalya ng kaniyang subordinates ay hindi sapat na ikapit sa kaniya ang kasong plunder. ngunit kung itong fund na ito ay galing sa DAP o PDAF na ang sabi ng SC ay illegal na gamitin sa anomang paraan sapagkat ito ang savings ng bayan ngunit pinirmahan o inaprubahan na gamitin, ito ay “plunder”

    3. Zaara Madison on

      President Aquinoand and other public official who are critical of the Supreme Court’s decision must be held in contempt of the courtand punised accordingly.

      Moreovet,any court case undergoing the due process by any Philippines court, whoever publicly (like President Aquino) denounce the defendant or even make a public comment on the court case must be held and punished of contempt of court.

      The due process of court is disgraced by any public comment by any public official (more so by no less than the president of the Philippines).

      The Philippine Judiciary must punish all those who are in contempt of any court case. If not, the dignity of the justice system is tarnished forever.

      How can a defendant in a court case have a fair just hearing when the President or any public official is allowed without penalty to comment in public against the defendant?

      Therefore, when a case is before the court, any public comment preducial to the case plaintiff or defendant must be guilty and punisable in contempt of court!

    4. Dear Atty. Dulay, please forgive PNoy for his senseless statements. The brain set of PNoy may be so damaged that he believes he is a lawyer who can argue and debate with a member of the BAR. The “daang matuwid” was invented to be a mere slogan to fool the Filipinos just like the other yellow slogan “kung walang korap,walang mahirap.” These are mere slogans which we, stupid Filipinos fully embraced only to realize that PNoy and his minions were just playing with words, in short, playing with the feelings and understanding of the people. PNoy failed all of us. If he will not pay for his sins when he is still alive, he will surely burn in hell for playing with the Filipino people as if he was playing with Josh and Bimby.

    5. There are still in Congress and Senate the vestige of
      Yellow cult. The allies and pork barrel men of panot
      are still around and trying to blend with the new government of Duterte.

    6. Putang-ina kang NOYTARD hanggang sa pagkawala mo sa malacanang ay puro ka pa rin ng kagaguhan,Palibhasay lahi ka ng mga traydor(lolo ay makapili) kaya walan matinong napala ang bayan sa naging panununungkulan mo.Yun lang napatay ninyo sa Luisita ay napakarami.Pati ng pinapatay ng ina mong kgaya mong inutl sa mendiola massacre.Dagdag mo pa SAF44 na iyong pinabayaang imasaker.Gagong ABNOY magtigil ka!!!

      • do not forget his father, the alleged hero of the yellows, unwittingly gave sabah to malaysia by exposing the plan of marcos to infiltrate and destabilize sabah for eventual phil takeover care of the sultan of sulu. his expose called the jabidah massacre never happened and according to reports, he even interviewed one of those who was supposedly massacred in his follow up in his expose.

      • 1987 Mendiola rally. 1986 EDSA rally. Both rallies were people’s power episodes. Death memoirs: Mamapasano-SAF44, Mendiola-13, EDSAI/EDSAII- 0.

    7. Dominador D. Canastra on

      Correct, as usual, Mr. Dulay. Thank you for your very informative articles.

    8. Getting rid of the Aquino appointee’s that infest the government is the only thing that will get rid of the “daang matuwid” administration.

      Congress is still filled with the pork barrel stealing Aquino allies
      The Supreme Court still has the same 6 Aquino appointee’s
      Ombudsman Morales still serves Aquino
      Comelec still staffed by Aquino appointees.

      Looks like mostly the same government to me

      • The word you said “mostly” is arbitrary because the so called allies of Aquino is already neutralized and does not have the guts to do otherwise.
        If the checks and balances is compromised that where corruptions will flourished at the very eyes of the people. President Duterte is surrounded by his trusted cabinet members and he has the speaker and president of both houses. The only branch of the government that President Duterte does not have influence is the judiciary. I used the word influence does not contrued control of the member its simply coloquial.

      • Get rid of these Aquino appointees. They are proven unworthy of the offices they occupy. They should be asked to leave or be impeached/charged with crimes.

    9. No need to dwell on yesterday. PNoy had shortcomings but he has accomplished a lot, too. Why don’t you set multiple factors or criteria to measure performance and do a comparison with the Ramos, Estrada and GMA administration. You may be surprise he will rank first in overall performance. No need to include Cory because she was transition president from martial law to democracy. We should not pick on single issues. remember, the Ombudsman and 4 other justices believed he is guilty. Insufficency of evidence is not PNoy’s fault because he does not control the Ombudsman, Sandiganbayan and the judiciary.

      • May you please, for our information, quantify and qualify the “accomplishments” of PNoy. We warn you however to research very well because many of the accomplishments which PNoy claims and you may claim was not his to claim but from the hard work of the past administrations especially that of Gloria Arroyo. When we asked to quantify and qualify, make sure you point what is the accomplishment and what he did to make it possible. Make sure you do not insult yourself by stating the accomplishments of Arroyo. Okay, you may start now.

      • Daniel B. Laurente on

        The article did not dwell on the past but was merely citing and putting the right perspective of what really happened. If no one exposed and articulate the wrong deeds of someone no one will be enlightened as to the reality. Be thankful someone like this columnist educated you to come to your right senses. Performance in putting GMA in detention without sufficient evidence for many years? How do you think about it?

      • The country would like to know what Pnoy had accomplished. Life had not become better in any aspect. Please enlighten.