MANILA MalacaAang on Thursday welcomed the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman to indict former president Benigno Aquino III over the alleged anomalous implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
It's the call of the Ombudsman as a Constitutional office to file charges and we are still nonetheless pleased that the Ombudsman has filed information to bring about accountability even from one who was the highest officer of the land, former president Noynoy Aquino, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a regular Palace press briefing.
The Ombudsman announced on Wednesday that its special panel has found probable cause to indict Aquino and former budget secretary Butch Abad before the Sandiganbayan for usurpation of legislative powers in connection with the DAP implementation.
Some quarters are already asking why only usurpation which is punishable only by six months. The original complaint was malversation, Roque said.
Roque, a former lawmaker, said he has yet to read the Ombudsman decision but he could surmise that perhaps there were no personal benefits that's why they reduced it to usurpation.
But they should have also considered that personal benefit is not only benefit of own pocket. It can be as former senator Jinggoy Estrada had said that it (DAP) was used to buy votes for impeachment, Roque said.
The DAP controversy exploded at the height of the impeachment proceedings against former chief justice Renato Corona.
But anyway, it's the call of the Ombudsman as we all know, said Roque, an international law expert.
Roque said he was the one argued the Supreme Court (SC) against the constitutionality of DAP.
Of course, I, personally, am asking why it took all this time before anyone could be charged with DAP. I think it's been over four years since the decision came out, Roque said.
He believes more should be charged in connection with the DAP disbursement.
Well, the complaints, and these do come only from the President, those charged in the DAP were only in the opposition during the time of President Aquino; that's why the complaints by many selective justice, Roque said.
I'm sure, there are more that should be charged and they are those being referred to by the President (Rodrigo Duterte) that he has documents because these are the allies of the former administration who have not been charged, he said.
Under Duterte's leadership, Roque said DAP-like scheme has been stopped in line with the government's serious campaign against graft and corruption.
So that's the big difference and since we all knew already the system and we all know the scheme, perhaps more should be charged, he said. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency