MANILA Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Friday described the case filed against former President Benigno Noynoy Aquino III over the alleged anomalous Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as a mere consuelo de bobo indictment.
Panelo made this reaction after the Office of the Ombudsman announced on June 20 that its special panel has found probable cause to indict Aquino before the Sandiganbayan for usurpation of legislative powers.
While in the narrow sense the indictment of former President Benigno Aquino III is a welcome development or push on PRRD's relentless campaign against graft and corruption, it must be noted however that charge is but a consuelo de bobo indictment, Panelo said in a press statement.
Panelo said the charge should have been plunder or at the very least a case of graft and corruption since it involves PHP36 billion of the people's money and no less than the Supreme Court declared the DAP unconstitutional.
There is a glaring discrepancy of the act committed as against the complaint filed, Panelo said.
He said the DAP case is a repeat of the anomalous previous charge against Aquino in connection with the Mamasapano incident that claimed at least 68 lives including 44 elite forces of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Instead of being charged with reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide, Panelo said Aquino was only charged with a usurpation of authority.
There must be a rectification of this omission and the process of reversing such indictments is in progress. The Supreme Court has stopped the trial of Aquino on the Mamasapano tragedy petition of the Solicitor General, Panelo said.
While sometime the wheels of justice grinds exceedingly slow, it does grind, and in the end justice will catch up on the perpetrators of the crime and reap their deserved punishment. Crime does not pay no matter your status in life, he added.
In radio dzRH interview on Friday morning, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Aquino may not end up in jail even if he will be found guilty since usurpation of legislative powers is only punishable by a minimum of six months to a maximum of six years imprisonment.
Since the punishment is only six months (imprisonment), it's possible that there would be no imprisonment because we have what we call probation, Roque explained.
Like Panelo, Roque believed that Aquino could have been indicted for bigger charges since the former administration admitted that they spent billions of pesos not included in the national budget.
He said the former President could have been charged with malversation or graft and corruption.
Since Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales' term will end in July, Roque said it would be better to leave the matter to Morales' successor to be appointed by Duterte.
He clarified, however, that the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has yet to submit the shortlist of candidates for next Ombudsman. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency