Why did Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales rush to give immunity to admitted pork-barrel thief Ruby Tuason when she turned over to government P40 million she claimed was all she got from the scam?
Why did she take at face value Tuason’s claim, which was refuted just a week later by Janet Napoles, who claimed in a sworn affidavit that Tuason got P615 million?
It would have even required just one call by Morales to a property broker to check Tuason’s claim that she raised the P40 million by selling her house in posh Dasmarinas Village—all that she had left, she said.
And Morales even hardly knew Tuason enough to believe her claim that she only had P40 million.
In the case of the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, who had been Morales’ colleague in the Supreme Court for nearly ten years, the Ombudsman even risked violating bank secrecy laws by manipulating the Anti-Money Laundering Council executive director to give her the chief magistrate’s bank records, which she even dramatically waved in the air in the televised impeachment trial.
Morales even called in for help the Commission on Audit member Heidi
Mendoza to analyze Corona’s records. Whether it was her or Mendoza’s analysis, it was false and exaggerated, as flows were confused for stock, so that a P100,000 deposit was counted several times over, so that the Ombudsman claimed Corona had $12 million in dollar accounts when he had only $1 million. (“Colossal Deception on Corona’s accounts,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 17, 2012).
Why didn’t Morales have the same kind of diligence in checking whether Tuason was lying or not?
Is this, as often in our justice system, a matter of class status, that the Ombudsman would trust a suspect from the upper class (no matter if her current wealth is ill-gotten) from a buena familia, and who studied at the exclusive St. Paul’s College and be suspicious of somebody from Basilan who finished only high school which Napoles is?
Which raises the question: Did Tuason tap into her upper class St. Paul College alumni network in the judicial system to help her convince Morales?
While I do hope the deal was above-board, it has to be investigated. But who investigates the investigators? Congress? But most members of Congress have committed crimes they are so afraid of the Ombudsman! We’re such in a deep quagmire as a Republic.
“Hoodlums in robes”
One of the least discussed facets of corruption in our country, yet which everyone who got tangled in a legal suit would swear is rampant, is in the judiciary.
It didn’t help create public outrage over this corruption, however, that it was Joseph Estrada when he was Vice President and Presidential Anti-Crime Commission chief who went to town over what he termed as “hoodlums in robes.” Estrada was then seething with rage that fiscals and judges were throwing out many of the cases his Commission had filed in courts.
Rumors have circulated for years that investigators, prosecutors and judges—in regular courts as well as in the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan—have their price. They don’t do it regularly though—as probably customs men do which made them notorious—but in very calculated and careful ways, like pulling just one major lucrative “job” in two years.
What I found out in my years of journalistic coverage was the scandalous but fascinating way badly-paid prosecutors, while pretending to be justice crusaders, would actually help the accused go scot-free—for huge amounts of money of course— by making fatal mistakes in the documentation or even by filing wrong complaints. The conspiring judge then invoked the mistakes to acquit the accused.
Because of late filing of evidence, loss of original documents, non-appearance of a prosecutor, a crooked judge would have no problem pretending to be shocked by the incompetence of the prosecutor and acquitting the accused because his hands “are tied” by the rules.
I am doing research for a future column on tax evasion cases filed at the Court of Tax Appeals, and I was shocked that several cases were dismissed because according to the court, the prosecutor failed to submit within deadline the “certified true copies of the duly signed approval for criminal prosecution of the accused and all other records in her possession.” Another case was similarly dismissed, as the prosecutor couldn’t produce the records of her preliminary investigation. How can a prosecutor do such things?
Mocking the Constitution
The Commission on Appointments has been rejecting every year President Aquino’s appointees: Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Commission on Audit member Heidi Mendoza, and Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla. Yet he keeps reappointing them, a screw-you message to Congress. (It escapes me why these people don’t get the message that they’re not wanted.)
Read what Aquino thought of such practice in his explanatory note for Senate Bill No. 1719 which he filed on October 10, 2007 when he was still a senator.
“The intent of the framers of the Constitution in creating the Commission on Appointments was to provide an effective check and balance mechanism between the executive and legislative branch of government.
“The act of the President (Arroyo at that time) in successively re-appointing by-passed nominees is a clear mockery of the above mentioned principle enshrined in our fundamental law. The President has abused her power to appoint because of her consistent re-appointment of her nominees who have been consecutively by-passed by the Commission on Appointments.
“The CA’s constitutional mandate to serve as an effective check against the possible abuse of the President’s power to appoint is thus frustrated by the current practice, as the President merely re-appoints all her nominees regardless of the number of times the said nominees have been by-passed by the CA. The restraint against possible abuse of the President’s appointing power is clearly rendered ineffective if not totally non-existent.”
That’s Benigno S. Cojuangco-Aquino talking, when he still wasn’t president.
This is classic Aquino. He thinks he is always the exception to the rule of law. For him, there are two standards, one for him, and the second for the rest.
Nearly a week after I wrote that Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima had applied to be Vice President Jejomar Binay’s finance secretary—if the latter wins the presidency in 2016, that is—the Cabinet member hasn’t issued a denial.
Only spokesperson Herminio Coloma did, saying rather stupidly that there were “no indications” that Purisima was unhappy with the President. I would have expected Coloma to instead say that he talked to Purisima, and that he called the story a total canard.
Coloma’s kind of denial with Purisima’s just keeping mum bolsters the report I made. It also indicates how keen Purisma is in joining the next administration. His denial of my report would have angered the vice president’s advisers he approached, ending his ambition to have the same job in the next administration.
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