By Ma. Reina L Tolentino/Manila Times
A group yesterday filed a malversation complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against former president Benigno Aquino and other individuals in connection with the alleged misuse of the Disbursement Acceleration Programme (DAP) funds.
The Truth & Justice Coalition, represented by its president Greco Belgica, filed the complaint against Aquino, former Budget secretary Florencio Abad, former Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya (also a former House appropriations committee chairman), former Interior secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd, Senator Franklin Drilon (a former chairman of the Senate finance committee), former Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, Yolanda Doblon, Senator. Antonio Trillanes 4th and John Does.
It alleged that DAP funds were given to some legislators to influence them to remove former chief justice Renato Corona.
“The cross-border transfer to the legislators was to influence them in ousting the (late) chief justice. It was the clear criminal intent to use public funds not for the purpose they were intended by the legislature but for their own selfish and individual interests,” the group said.
The DAP, a stimulus package under the Aquino administration that aimed to fast-track public spending and push economic growth, was declared partly unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in July 2014.
“In fairness to the respondents, out of the three (3) DAP tranches, the evidence showed that only the first and second tranches were used to influence the legislators in connection with the impeachment and conviction of the late chief justice. A total of 139 House members and 21 senators received the first tranche of the DAP from the respondents… For the second tranche, there were 95 House members and 19 senators,” the group said.
“As mentioned earlier, Section 59 of the 2011 GAA (General Appropriations Act) is the provision on the use of savings. The phrase ‘for their respective offices’ contained in Article VI, Section 25 (5) of the Constitution was omitted therein. Without the restrictive phrase, cross-border transfer of savings is not prohibited by law any more.
This provision was made possible through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) secretary and the chairmen of the House appropriation and Senate finance committees, with the blessing of the then president,” it added.
“Respondent Mar Roxas is likewise a co-conspirator in the crime of malversation by direct participation through the clandestine meetings with senator-judges,” the group said.
Relampagos signed the Special Allotment Release Orders, according to the complaint.
In its complaint, the group mentioned circumstances that allegedly made Trillanes a co-conspirator such as the grant of amnesty to him through Presidential Decree 50 dated Oct 11, 2010 and his alleged receipt of P100mn worth of DAP from Dec 13 to 22, 2011.
“The amnesty, the ghost project and the project not listed in the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (FCCC) website are matters that distinguishes Senator Trillanes from the rest of the DAP recipient senators who voted for the conviction of Corona,” it said.
According to the group’s statement, Belgica, also a commissioner of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, “clarified that the charges are purely based on truth and justice.”
Meanwhile, Abad said former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales “has already found in her investigation that there was no graft nor technical malversation involved in the use of the DAP funds.”
The Office of the Ombudsman earlier cleared Aquino and Relampagos of any accountability in the implementation of the programme from 2011 to 2013.
But it found basis to charge Abad with usurpation of legislative powers — a matter that stemmed from the issuance of National Budget Circular (NBC) 541 to carry out the implementation of the DAP.
Later, in a resolution approved on June 14, the Ombudsman only partly granted the motion for reconsideration filed by the complainants — who argued that the Ombudsman “committed grave errors of facts and laws” in not finding basis to charge Abad and Aquino with graft and technical malversation — and found basis to charge Aquino before the Sandiganbayan with usurpation of legislative powers.
In the same resolution, the Ombudsman denied Abad’s plea for reconsideration.
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