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Ex-President loses immunity, accountable for illegal ‘pork,’ others


(Photo from Philippine Star)


QUEZON (via PhilAmPress) — After losing immunity from suits, former President Benigno S. Aquino III is now facing several criminal charges for acts committed while he was in Malacanang, including graft and malversation in connection with the use of pork barrel funds called the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which had been ruled as unconstitutional and illegal by the Supreme Court.


 Another complaint Mr. Aquino is facing at the Office of the Ombudsman is in connection with the failed Mamasapano, Maguindanao operations in which 60 people were killed, 44 of them members of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police.  


The complaint was filed by relatives of some of the slain SAF police operatives and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption a day after Mr. Aquino stepped down from office.


 Aquino immediately branded the accusations against him as "absurd," adding that the new case may only set up the families of the slain Special Action Force (SAF) commandos "for even more suffering."


Over 60 people died, including 44 SAF troopers, in the Philippine National Police (PNP) operation to arrest top international terrorists Marwan and Basit Usman in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015.


Relatives of two slain SAF commandos and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) filed 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide against Aquino, dismissed PNP Chief Alan Purisima and former SAF Director Getulio Napeñas.


They want the Ombudsman to investigate the three's liability in the deaths of the 44 SAF troopers.


The complainants are Erlina Aliaga, mother of PO3 Robert Dommolog Aliaga; Warlito Mejia, father of PO2 Ephraim Mejia; and the VACC represented by Dante Jimenez and Arsenio Evangelista.


The group based their complaints on the results of the Senate investigation and the report of the PNP Board of Inquiry on the Mamasapano incident.


The complaint stated that Aquino, Napeñas and Purisima "acted with inexcusable negligence and imprudence, utter lack of precaution and foresight on their part and they are therefore probably guilty of criminal negligence and reckless imprudence, which were the direct and proximate causes of the death of the forty-four (44) members of the PNP-SAF."


"Negligence, imprudence lack of foresight, lack of skill, wala pong criminal intent na patayin, ngunit dahil sa kapabayaan may namatay po," said Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, one of the lawyers who drafted the complaint.


Mr. Aquino and former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio B. Abad were charged with graft, technical malversation of funds and usurpation of legislative powers before the Office of the Ombudsman last Friday in connection with the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).


Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) Chair Dante Jimenez, Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary-General Renato Reyes filed the complaint against Aquino and Abad.


The DAP was a savings impounding mechanism which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC) in 2014.


The DAP was considered by critics as the pork barrel under the Aquino administration.


The legislative pork Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was scrapped by the SC at the height of the so-called pork barrel scam.


Jimenez argued that Aquino and Abad should be held liable for technical malversation for diverting DAP funds for pet projects of the former President.


He added that the two former government officials should also be held liable for usurpation of legislative powers for usurping the powers of the purse of Congress.


Zarate said that the two should also be charged with graft and corruption.


"The DAP was nothing more than the presidential pork barrel taken from forced savings then realigned for pet projects of the President," he said.


"It was not a stimulus program as many of the projects approved by Aquino had nothing to do with stimulating the economy," Zarate added.


He said that funds from DAP were also used to bribe lawmakers to impeach the late Chief Justice Renato Coronado Corona.


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