Is Ombudsman Carpio-Morales a misfit?
Any day now, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption will initiate an impeachment complaint against the anti-graft prosecutor, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales before the House of Representatives. She was named Ombudsman by President BS Aquino III in July 2011.
The main complaint against Carpio-Morales is betrayal of the public trust, on the following grounds:
1. Inordinate delay in disposition of cases
2. Bias in favor of former President BS Aquino III
3. Bias against high-ranking public officials identified with the political opposition to President Aquino. She went after former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former vice president Jejomar Binay, former Makati mayor Junjun Binay, former mayor Elenita Binay, Senators Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, Ramon Bong Revilla, Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, and JV Ejercito, and Congressman Prospero Pichay.
“The Ombudsman is a misfit who does not deserve to stay a minute longer in her exalted position,” says the VACC.
She is supposed to retire in July but I guess the VACC wants to give Carpio-Morales her day in court.
In No. 1, VACC says 6,254 cases are pending before the Ombudsman. The disposition rate is only 50 percent, below par.
Speedy disposition of cases is a constitutional right of an accused. In a court case, a delay of three years is already inordinate. There is Supreme Court ruling that says a delay of one year before the Ombudsman is already a violation of the Constitution. A delay means any of several things—inefficiency, incompetence, ignorance, sheer laziness, or plain refusal to act.
Said then Justice Puno in People vs. Lacson, “Accusation casts a doubt on the person’s reputation that is not easily erased. Frequently, the public remembers the accusation and still suspects guilt even after an acquittal. Moreover, even where an acquittal is accepted as fully vindication of the accused, it hardly remedies other costs suffered in the course of gaining that verdict. The period spent by the accused awaiting trial commonly is filled with a substantial degree of anxiety and insecurity that disrupts the daily flow of his life. That disruption is, of course, even greater if he is incarcerated pending trial.”
In No. 2, VACC recalls that in the Supreme Court case Araullo vs. Aquino III, the high court in 2014 declared P149-billion of DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) or pork barrel funds unconstitutional and ordered the prosecution of the guilty.
Carpio-Morales turned a blind eye on the liabilities of Aquino III in the P149 billion DAP, the VACC contends.
Araullo vs. Aquino III clearly established that BS Aquino III and Florencio Abad used the unconstitutional DAP to impeach and convict the late Chief Justice Renato Corona. In response to the revelation of Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, former Budget secretary Abad admitted that the funds released to the senators had been part of the DAP. Each of the senators who voted to impeach Corona was given P50 million of DAP or pork barrel money in 2012.
In No. 3, according to the VACC, Ombudsman Carpio-Morales betrayed the public trust for being bias in favor of President BS Aquino III and for unduly shielding him from prosecution.
In the DAP-related and Mamasapano-related cases, for example, Morales absolved Aquino III despite the latter’s clear involvement in the pork barrel and Mamasapano crimes.
On March 7, 2017, the Ombudsman cleared former President BS Aquino over a P72-billion DAP or pork barrel case but found his Budget secretary, Florencio Abad liable only for usurpation of legislative powers.
Filed by Bayan Muna and the VACC, the case was deemed merely administrative in nature involving the National Budget Circular No. 541 which the Ombudsman herself said unlawfully encroached on the powers of Congress by effectively redefining what constitutes savings in the 2012 national budget.
Since BS Aquino is no longer president, the case was dismissed by the Ombudsman for lack of jurisdiction.
For violating the law, Abad was suspended by Morales for three months. Since the budget secretary was no longer in office, the suspension was convertible into a fine equivalent to three months salary. In effect, Abad doesn’t to spend a single day in jail.
How much is the salary of a budget secretary, at salary grade 31? Not more than P90,000 a month, perhaps, or P270,000 in three months. For a job that manages and dispenses P3 trillion in annual expenses of which easily 30 percent or P1 trillion is stolen.
Imagine that. During the unlamented BS Aquino III administration, hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ money were being stolen with regularity and impunity every year by among the highest officials of the land, elected and unelected, and yet the guilty gets nothing more than a fine! A fine!
Yet today, a poor man with P200 worth of planted shabu gets immediately executed without due process, not even a Miranda reading.
“The biggest travesty is Morales’ letting Aquino off the hook. How is Abad the only government official liable, when his official actions were authorized by Aquino?” asks the VACC, echoing a Manila Times editorial.
The anti-graft group wonders: “If Morales found grounds to indict and jail Arroyo for scribbling marginal notes on requests for the release of sweepstakes intelligence funds in 2012, why not Aquino who signed and approved the release of billions in DAP money?” “This is a scandal!”, the group cries.
According to the VACC, Ombudsman Carpio-Morales’s manifest partiality towards Aquino III also redounded to the benefit of his allies, who are stalwarts of the Liberal Party such as former DoTC secretary Joseph Abaya and Senator Franklin Drilon, who were unduly absolved in the MRT Maintenance Contract and Iloilo Convention Center cases.
In the case of former Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Representative Jocelyn Limkaichong, for instance, the plunder cases against them have not moved at all and are gathering dust in the Ombudsman Central Office and Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas, respectively.