Why not malversation? Roque raps Ombudsman case vs Aquino
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said the Ombudsman could have filed charges with heavier penalties against former President Benigno Aquino III, instead of just usurpation of legislative powers.
In a statement Wednesday, the Office of the Ombudsman said Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales "found probable cause" to hail Aquino to court for the alleged unlawful issuance of National Budget Circular No. 541 for the implementation of DAP, an economic stimulus program.
The former chief executive was charged with usurpation of legislative powers.
Under Article 239 of the Revised Penal Code, this is punishable with imprisonment of 6 months and 1 day, temporary special disqualification and a fine not exceeding P1,000.
Roque, however, said the former President could have at least been charged with malversation.
"It was a very serious breach of the Constitution and I think charging him with something that would entail imprisonment of 6 months, which is probationable, is not proportionate to what the Court decided," he told ANC's Headstart.
He said Morales indicting Aquino, who appointed her, a month before she was set to leave office could be her way of "addressing criticisms hurled against her that she’s guilty of selective justice."
"I’d like always to give people the presumption of good faith, but it could have been done earlier if she wanted to," Roque said, adding that he had won arguments against the Disbursement Acceleration Program about 4 or 5 years ago.
"There’s a decision of the Supreme Court that the Constitution was violated. I don’t understand why it took all this time to charge him finally criminally and literally a month before she retires," he said.
Apart from Aquino, the Ombudsman found probable cause to also charge former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad with usurpation of legislative powers in the supposed illegal implementation of DAP last year.
Unlike the former chief executive, Abad was also found guilty of simple misconduct and ordered suspended for 3 months. Since he is no longer in office, he must pay a penalty equivalent to 3 months of salary.