NEWLY minted Senator Leila de Lima said last week that she was saddened by the complaints filed recently against former President Benigno Aquino III, over the misuse of public funds through his illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program, as well as the botched covert operation that resulted in the deaths of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano in January 2015.
De Lima, Justice secretary under Aquino, said the cases filed before the Office of the Ombudsman were either politically motivated or plain harassment.
She said the complaint filed against Aquino and his Budget Secretary Florencio Abad over the DAP was unwarranted because both of them acted in good faith.
At the same time, she described the filing of criminal charges against Aquino for the Mamasapano incident one day after he stepped down from office as “nothing but a media stunt.”
“[No] amount of legal imagination can manipulate the definition of homicide and murder under the Revised Penal Code so as to involve the [former] President and implicate the police officials involved” in the Mamasapano case, De Lima said in a statement Friday.
But the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, which helped parents of two of the 44 Special Action Force commandos file multiple homicide complaints against Aquino and his disgraced police chief, Alan Purisima, said it is De Lima who lacks legal imagination.
Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said by law, Aquino and his co-accused should be held liable for the consequences of reckless imprudence “even though not intended, including the death of 44 police officers.”
“The charge of reckless imprudence is supported by a huge amount of documentary evidence consisting of the Senate Report, the PNP Board of Inquiry Report, and the transcripts of testimonies before the Senate taken under oath, all of which are attached to our complaint. They are more than enough to constitute probable cause after preliminary investigation,” the lawyer said.
At the same time, the former Justice secretary should be reminded that Aquino used the DAP to “convince” 16 senators to convict his political enemy, then Chief Justice Renato Corona, to the tune of P100 million per senator. This, by any other name, is bribery plain and simple, which cannot by any stretch of the imagination be misconstrued as an act of “good faith.”
But of course, we can expect no less from De Lima, who when she was Justice secretary, even defied a direct order of the Supreme Court to serve her master. She, too, served as Aquino’s attack dog, who went after his political enemies while going easy on his erring allies. But now that De Lima is an elected senator of the land, her blind loyalty to her former boss is unseemly. The VACC, in fact, has urged her to resign as senator so that she can act as Aquino’s lawyer.
One might say that given her actions, De Lima is loyal to a fault. Her error, however, is in being loyal to only one man instead of the entire nation.