The worm, as Shakespeare sagely observed, has turned. And if DAP is going to be reinvestigated, can Mamasapano be far behind?
If there is anything that President Noynoy Aquino must be deathly scared of, it’s an impartial revisiting of his unconstitutional and illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program. The program released P144.38 billion in government funds to various agencies, including Congress, from 2011 to 2013.
It was slapped down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court soon after it was discovered to have been used to bribe members of the Senate in order to secure the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012. Aquino, in television addresses, defended his “cross-border” transfer of DAP funds, which the high court shot down anyway.
Of course, the Supreme Court, in a subsequent ruling on Malacañang’s motion for reconsideration, gave Aquino and his co-author of DAP, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, a fig leaf to cover their behinds with. The tribunal mitigated its earlier decision by giving Aquino and Abad the benefit of the doubt through the so-called operative fact doctrine, saying that the disbursement program may have been implemented “in good faith.”
But the ruling will provide scant protection for Aquino when the new secretary of justice, Vitaliano Aguirre, goes back on the matter. After all, the first ruling was perfectly clear on DAP —huge sums were illegally disbursed and were never, ever returned.
Aquino deployed all of his propaganda artillery, in and out of the palace press office, to control the damage of DAP. There was also the fact that, because he enjoyed immunity from suit, Aquino could not be charged for misusing the fund during his term.
The operative term, of course, is “during his term.” And it is to the credit of Aguirre and his principal, President-in-waiting Rodrigo Duterte, that they are willing to consider reopening the DAP case even before Aquino has removed his ashtrays and chicharon wrappers from the presidential palace.
(The irony of Aguirre’s involvement as a private prosecutor in the Corona impeachment trial, where he became famous for drawing the ire of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago when he covered his ears during one of the feisty senator’s tirades, should not be lost on Aquino, Abad and all the others who conceived, implemented and ultimately benefited from DAP. From pursuing Corona at the behest of Aquino, Aguirre has now been given the job of filing charges on the misuse of the fund “no matter who gets hurt,” according to him.)
And if there is any scandal that took place during Aquino’s vengeful and thankfully ending term that has the potential of sending the president behind bars, it’s DAP. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to run to the supermarket to stock up on popcorn.
The worm has truly turned. And the tradition of throwing ex-presidents in jail seems certain to continue.
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The details of another scandal—there is no other way to describe it—that Aquino is scared will come to light involves the killing by his administration’s “peace partners,” the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, of 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force in January last year in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. If and when the incoming Duterte administration takes a look into that monumental crime perpetrated by Aquino, it’s safe to assume that the new ex-president will stay in jail even longer than Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has.
Aquino proclaimed loud and long that he was not involved in the Mamasapano massacre, that he was gypped by his own people, particularly Generals Alan Purisima, his suspended, graft-prone PNP chief, and Getulio Napeñas, chief of the SAF at the time and the designated scapegoat. But despite so many investigations and cover-ups, the fact remains that Aquino sent 44 commandos on a mission to capture a terrorist but failed —perhaps even refused—to get them out when they were set upon by his bloodthirsty peace partners.
Aquino famously declared that he would bring with him to his grave the killing of 44 commandos in Mamasapano. But that vow is not nearly good enough for the families of the troopers who were left without artillery or air support as they were butchered for an entire day in that godforsaken cornfield.
Aquino will have to answer for his sins of omission and commission, since he had command responsibility and knew exactly what went down that fateful January day. And if he is finally made to account for what he did and did not do as far as DAP and Mamasapano are concerned, that would be more than enough for me.
Let’s see how brave Aquino really is once he is shorn of his immunity from suit a little over a month from now. I can hardly wait.