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Tingting Cojuangco, Belgica seek Aquino impeachment

/ 03:28 PM August 26, 2015

A PETITION seeking the filing of an impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino III in connection with the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was filed on Wednesday before the high tribunal.

The petitioners – former Manila councilor and defeated senatorial candidate Greco Belgica, former Tarlac governor Margarita Cojuangco and several others – asked the SC to order Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to investigate and file a verified complaint for impeachment against Aquino and other government officials.

In a 45-page petition for Mandamus with Preliminary Mandatory Injunction, petitioners also urged the high court to order the Ombudsman and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to prosecute the authors, proponents and implementors of DAP, as well as the officials who misused PDAF.

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“Considering that time is of the essence and there is great danger or risk that those involved would try to obstruct their investigation or prosecution, being in power, not to mention the need to put a stop to the interminable dilly-dallying and unwarranted excuses or dereliction of functions and duties of the concerned prosecutorial organs of the government, there is an imperious need for the Honorable Court to issue a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction directing them to act accordingly,” petitioners said.

The high court in 2013 declared as unconstitutional the PDAF commonly known as the “pork barrel fund” and all the laws that created it. The high court also prohibited future creation of laws to revive such fund.

On the other hand, the high court declared portion of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional as  including:

  1.   withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies, and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the General Appropriations Act;
  2.  cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the Executive; and
  3. use of unprogrammed funds despite the absence of a certification by the National Treasurer that the revenue collections exceeded the revenue targets for non-compliance with the conditions provided in the relevant General Appropriations Act.

In both ruling, the high court ordered an investigation and prosecution of erring officials involved in PDAF as well as the proponents, authors and implementors of DAP.

Belgica, Cojuangco filed the petition together with Bishop Reuben M. Abante, Quintin P. San Diego, Rev. Jose Gonzales and Atty. Glenn A. Chong.

Petitioners said it has been more than a year since the high court’s order but “erring public officials remain scot-free.”

“Despite the receipt of the petitioners’ letter, red flags raised by the Commission on Audit and sufficient time lapse, the Ombudsman and the DOJ Secretary have miserably failed to perform their public functions and duties to the detriment of the petitioners and the general public, as well as Government,” petitioners said.

Aside from the Ombudsman’s slow investigation, petitioners told the high court that the DOJ’s action is “sub-par” due to “selective prosecution.”

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Petitioners also fear that with the slow investigation, vital pieces of evidence could be destroyed.

“Justice demands swift and just actions on the part of the public respondents concerned. Any more delay would further injury the national interest and lead the people to more frustration, not to mention the probability that vital pieces of evidence would be destroyed and the culprits remaining scot-free,” petitioners added. Tetch Torres-Tupas

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TAGS: Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), Impeachment, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Office of the Ombudsman, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), Supreme Court
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