Supreme Court asked to stop plunder of Malampaya Fund
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court is being asked to stop the “systematic plunder” of the Malampaya Fund by resolving a petition pending for almost four years assailing its use by the government as illegal and unconstitutional.
A group of petitioners is set to file Thursday an urgent motion to resolve the case, which was tackled by the high court in oral arguments Nov. 24, 2009.
The petitioners, represented by law professor Harry Roque, include Bishop Pedro Dulay Arigo of Puerto Princesa, former Interior Secretary Cesar Sarino, geologist and surgeon Dr. Jose Antonio Socrates and broadcaster Gerry Ortega, who was killed in 2011 apparently because of his exposés on Malampaya.
The new motion came amid allegations that the P10-billion scam involving ghost projects and fake agencies of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles included P900 million from the Malampaya Fund coursed through the Department of Agrarian Reform ostensibly for storm victims who were beneficiaries of the land-to-the-tiller program.
It said a “systematic brazen raid” on the government share in the proceeds of the operation of oil and gas resources in Malampaya off Palawan began two days after the oral arguments in the court.
In the eight-page motion, the petitioners noted an Inquirer report that said the Commission on Audit (COA) was investigating disbursements amounting to P23.6 billion from the Malampaya Fund by the Arroyo administration.
They said that since the oral arguments were held, “the systematic plunder” of the Malampaya Fund had “apparently gone unabated.” They urged the court “to put finis to this plunder of public coffers.”
“Had the court decided the case immediately after oral arguments almost four years ago, we would not have just prevented Napoles from squandering P900 million of the government’s money,” Roque said in a statement. “We would probably have been able to prevent Arroyo’s plunder of P23.6 billion of taxpayer money to benefit her lying, cheating and stealing regime.”
The group reminded the high court that it last made a manifestation on Nov. 23, 2011, after the COA recommended graft charges against former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes on the P2.8-billion Malampaya Fund mess. It said this underscored “the questionable constitutionality and legality” of the use of the funds by both the national as well as the provincial government of Palawan.