Morales insists: No proof Aquino liable for DAP
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales won’t buck from her position to dismiss the corruption cases of former President Benigno Aquino III just to please her critics.
In an interview with CNN Philippines’ “The Source,” Morales said she was sorry to disappoint her critics but as far as the Ombudsman was concerned, there was no probable cause to file charges against Aquino over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The DAP was a system of realigning savings to other agencies in a bid to stimulate the economy. It was perceived as then President Aquino’s pork barrel fund. The Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional some practices under DAP.
“They want Aquino’s head. We go by the evidence. If the evidence is there, if it’s rearing its ugly head, why should we not file the case?” Morales said.
“But if the evidence does not merit the determination of probable cause, why should we go to court?” she added.
Morales welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court to dismiss the disbarment case filed against her by defeated senatorial candidate Greco Belgica, who wanted the Ombudsman’s head for her refusal to hold Aquino accountable.
But Morales said if her critics, led by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, who vowed to file an impeachment complaint against her, wanted her removed from office to force her to file charges against Aquino, she has this to say:
“If that is intended to scare me into filing a case against Aquino, even if the evidence does not warrant, I’m sorry to disappoint them.”
Morales said she would not order the filing of charges before the Sandiganbayan against any public official just to subvert any attempt to impeach her.
“They can file an impeachment complaint. I’m not going to be coerced into filing a case against someone, when I believe the evidence does not call for it,” Morales said.
She said she was ready to hand over her “thankless position” on a “silver platter.”
But she believes she committed no impeachment offense. “I am confident, impeachment or no impeachment. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve done nothing wrong that can fall under any ground for impeachment,” Morales said.
Morales said she did not owe any debt of gratitude to Aquino, who appointed her as Ombudsman in 2011 after her retirement as Supreme Court Associate Justice.
“Excuse me, I did not ask for that position. In fact, I was hesitant to accept that position. I wanted the luxury of retirement. But nauto ako (I was duped),” Morales said.
“Of course, I was challenged,” she added.
In her resolution, Morales acquitted Aquino and his budget secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad of technical malversation because they were mere “policy makers” and not “accountable public officers” in connection with the DAP.
The Ombudsman dismissed the graft complaint against Aquino and Abad after finding no evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence because the DAP was “motivated by a good purpose to spur economic growth and boost the national economy.”
Morales added that there was no bad faith on the part of Aquino because when the latter was senator he filed a bill seeking to limit executive influence on the General Appropriations Act and that Aquino knew beforehand that “acts of tinkering with the annual GAA and fiscal dictatorship are contrary to the Constitution.”
The Ombudsman acquitted Aquino of the usurpation of powers without giving an explanation. But it found probable cause to charge Abad with usurping the powers of the purse of Congress in realigning the country’s savings under DAP.
As to the complaints against Aquino over the Mamasapano incident, Morales said the graft and usurpation of powers the Ombudsman filed against dismissed police officers Alan Purisima and Getulio Napeñas did not include Aquino because the raps were filed when the president still had immunity in office.
“Some people are crowing at the Ombudsman for not filing a case against PNoy. What we filed was a complaint against Purisima and Napeñas when PNoy was still in power,” Morales said.
Former president Aquino appointed Morales Ombudsman when the latter retired as Supreme Court associate justice in 2011.
Morales is set to retire on July 25 next year.
During the Meet the Inquirer forum on Dec. 2016, Morales called the former President Aquino “corrupt-free.”
“You have to give it to him. He is corrupt-free,” Morales said./rga