PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte’s spokesman on Thursday said more personalities allied with the past administration should be charged in connection with the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program on the watch of then president Benigno S.C. Aquino III.
“So—I am sure po, marami pang dapat kasuhan na hindi pa nakakasuhan at iyon po ang tinutukoy ng Presidente na may hawak siyang mga dokumento, dahil ito po ay mga kaalyado ng dating administrasyon na hindi po nakasuhan,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a press briefing. (I am sure, more who haven’t been charged should be charged, and this is what the President when he said he has documents, because these [people] are allied with the past administration and they haven’t been charged.)
Mr. Duterte, in his remarks Wednesday, said in part, “One day, I will show it to you, the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) na hindi niya ginalaw (that [Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales] did not touch). We’ll publish it.” The Ombudsman that day issued a statement saying it had found probable cause to indict Mr. Aquino III for Usurpation of Legislative Powers via the DAP.
Mr. Roque also said in an interview with ANC that he “would have indicted him (Mr. Aquino) for a bigger charge.”
“I would have indicted him for malversation,” he said, adding that Mr. Aquino’s indictment over DAP “should have been done earlier.”
For his part, Senator Joseph Victor G. Ejercito said in a forum on Thursday: “It has been a habit of (former budget) secretary (Florencio B.) Abad and the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) to make use of savings for different purposes, if you recall the Dengvaxia.”
“(M)ukhang (it appears) it’s just a slap on the risk because usurpation is only six months imprisonment….At the very least (it should have been) technical malversation, and I think Abad is very guilty of this,” Mr. Ejercito also said about Mr. Aquino’s co-accused in the DAP case.
Senator Richard J. Gordon, for his part, said: “As chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I agree with the Ombudsman that there was usurpation. But, though I don’t know all the facts yet, I would have chosen the more stringent offenses which are graft and corruption and malversation. They were even guilty of malversation, technical malversation.”
The Liberal Party in a statement on Wednesday defended Mr. Aquino, saying he “will show that he did not commit any illegal act.”
Also in his ANC interview, Mr. Roque said that he thinks Edna A. Herrera-Batacan, “the President’s personal lawyer, is a front-runner for the Ombudsman post. She’s a litigator.”
In her interview with the Judicial and Bar Council of the Philippines (JBC) on Wednesday, Ms. Batacan acknowledged having “a close relationship with President Duterte.”
Ms. Morales is due to retire on July 26. — Arjay L. Balinbin, with Camille A. Aguinaldo