MILITANT groups led the filing of a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman Friday against former President Benigno Aquino III and his Budget Secretary Florencio Abad for graft, malversation and usurpation of legislative powers through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The complaint was the second filed against Aquino, whose term ended June 30. The first was a multiple homicide charge filed by the parents of two of the 44 police Special Action Force commandos who died in the Mamasapano massacre on Jan. 25, 2015.
The Aquino administration created DAP ostensibly as a stimulus package to speed up public spending and increase economic growth.
But critics accused the Aquino administration of misusing public funds and usurping the congressional power of the purse and challenged the DAP before the Supreme Court, which struck it down as unconstitutional in February 2015.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, one of the complainants, said the DAP was “nothing more than presidential pork taken from forced savings then realigned for pet projects.”
“It was not a stimulus program as many of the projects approved by Aquino had nothing to do with stimulating the economy. It was presidential pork used to entice lawmakers to impeach then convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona,” he said.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr., another complainant, said the allegations they raised “were originally aired via the impeachment complaint filed before the House of Representatives in 2014.”
“However, the Liberal Party-dominated chamber did not give the impeachment complainants a chance to present evidence on the culpability of Aquino. It is only now that Aquino is no longer in power that we are able to revive our push for accountability,” Reyes said.
The complainants accused Aquino and Abad of technical malversation “for their act of misappropriating public funds to programs, and projects, in conspiracy with one another, through the DAP which had been declared illegal by the Supreme Court.
They said Aquino and Abad violated the Revised Penal Code, particularly the provision of the usurpation of legislative powers when the two “[implemented] the DAP, which resulted in the diversion of funds appropriated by the 2011, 2012, and 2013 General Appropriation Acts (GAA) to programs, activities, and projects (PAPs) they themselves identified and approved, from October 2011 to 2016, thereby supplanting the will of Congress with that of their own and repealing these GAAs and suspending their execution with respect to the items affected.”
They also said Aquino and Abad violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act “for causing undue injury to complainants and the various sectors of the public they represent, including the government, in the discharge of their official administrative functions through evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, as a result of the implementation of the DAP.”
And because Aquino and Abad insisted on the illegal DAP, they were guilty of “grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and gross dishonesty,” the complainants said.
Aside from Zarate and Reyes, the complainants were Alliance of Concerned Teachers chairman Benjamin Valbuena; Confederation For Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees president Ferdinand Gaite; Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chairman and president Dante Jimenez; Mae Paner of the Juana Change Movement, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas secretary- general Antonio Flores; Gabriela secretary-general Joan Mae Salvador, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap chair Gloria Arellano, and Philippine Heart Center Employees Association-Alliance of Health Workers president Bonifacio Carmona Jr.
Former Palace deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte on Friday said the charges filed by progressive groups against Aquino were “neither surprising nor unexpected.”
Valte, also a lawyer, said the move was part of the “continuing harassment” on the former chief executive.
“This action from Bayan is neither surprising nor unexpected. As soon as PNoy stepped down, they mobilized to rally at his Times Street home, unwilling to extend to him a peaceful homecoming,” Valte said.
“Unsatisfied, they mobilized again the next day, deliberately provoking the policemen assigned there in the hope of manufacturing violence to boost media coverage of their shenanigans,” Valte said.
Aquino went back to his residence at Times Street in Quezon City after he stepped down from office last week, June 30.
“It is clearly part of their continuing harassment of a president who refused to be cowed by their chest-beating during his entire term,” Valte said of the incident.
Aquino has yet to receive a copy of the complaint, she said.
Abad has yet to get a copy of it too, and told GMA News Online in a text message on Friday that they “will reply once we get a notice to do so by the Ombudsman.”