Panelo blasts Aquino indictment over DAP
President Duterte’s chief legal counsel has downplayed the case former President Benigno Aquino III is facing over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as a mere “consuelo de bobo” indictment.
While Aquino’s indictment may be a development in the fight against graft and corruption, the charge filed is not enough, said chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo.
“While in the narrow sense, the indictment is a welcome development or push in [the] relentless campaign against graft and corruption, it must be noted, however, that the charge is but a consuelo de bobo indictment,” he said on Friday.
Panelo issued the statement days after the Ombudsman indicted Aquino for allegedly usurping the budgetary powers of Congress when he approved the DAP.
The Ombudsman found probable cause to indict the former president on charges of usurpation of legislative authority. The case will be filed in the Sandiganbayan.
More grave crime
If convicted by the antigraft court, Aquino could face a prison term ranging from six months to six years.
Panelo pointed out that the charge should not have been usurpation of legislative authority, but the grave crime of plunder or, at the very least, graft and corruption.
This is because “it involves P36 billion of the people’s money with the Supreme Court no less declaring that the disbursement was in violation of the 1987 Constitution,” he said.
“There is a glaring discrepancy of the act committed as against the complaint filed,” the presidential legal counsel said.
He noted that the latest case against Aquino was “a repeat of the anomalous previous charge against him” over the 2015 Mamasapano incident.”
Panelo recalled that Aquino, instead of being charged with reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, ended up with an indictment for usurpation of authority.
“There must be a rectification of this omission and the process of reversing such indictments is in progress,” he said.
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