Jinggoy confident next Ombudsman would review 'selective indictment'

By Mario Casayuran

Former Sen. Jose ‘’Jinggoy’’ Estrada expressed confidence today that the next Ombudsman would review the ‘’selective indictment’’ against the previous administration by outgoing Ombudsman Conchita Morales on the implementation of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Jinggoy Estrada, (Mark Balmores / Manila Bulletin file photo) Jinggoy Estrada (Mark Balmores / Manila Bulletin file photo)

The crux of the controversial decision was the Ombudsman’s recommendation to indict former President Benigno Aquino C. Aquino III and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad for usurpation of legislative powers over the controversial DAP which carries a light penalty of six months.

Pro-administration Sen. Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, had said the heavier offense of technical malversation should have been recommended because both Aquino and Abad used savings of various government departments for projects without authority from Congress.

In a radio interview today, Estrada quoted presidential legal adviser Salvador Panelo that the six-month penalty for usurpation of legislative functions could be considered as ‘’consuelo de bobo.’’

President Duterte himself had expressed dissatisfaction over Morales’ recommendation against Aquino and Abad, saying she only went after her enemies.

Estrada recalled delivering a privilege speech against the adoption by the Aquino administration of the DAP weeks after the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, convicted Chief Justice Renato Corona for misdeclaration of his properties in the Statement of Asset, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN).

Estrada said he uncovered the DAP when then-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon asked his fellow senators to submit a list of projects to be financed by a spending program.

Not one senator knew of such a program, he added.

Based on a list of senator-recipients of the DAP, several pro-Aquino administration senators led by Drilon had P100 million of projects each while the minority only were allotted P50 million each.

Although Aquino and Abad had reasoned out that the Filipino people benefited from the DAP projects, the procedure was for Malacañang to get a supplemental budget from Congress which they bypassed, he explained.