The President couldn’t have chosen a better qualified Chief Justice. Chief Justice Peralta is backed by a wealth of judicial experience, having started his career as a prosecutor, then as RTC judge, Sandiganbayan presiding justice and a Senior Associate Justice of the Court for more than a decade.
He is known for his integrity and competence, and one who enjoys the respect of his peers and others inside and outside the legal circle. I have known him all the way back when he was QC RTC judge who convicted almost if not all the KFR (kidnapping-for-ransom) suspects I apprehended when I was still in the law-enforcement service.
Many of the legal opinions that I – being a non-lawyer – have expressed during our committee hearings and plenary debates are in consultation with Justice Peralta. That is why I feel extremely confident when I manifest such opinions.
In 2012, I recall being the first one to question the issuance of DBM Circular 541 during the budget deliberations on general principles of the 2013 GAA. I argued then that savings cannot be declared in the middle of the year. That early, I already sensed something ominous with that move of the DBM.
As it turned out, the unused appropriations in the first semester of the 2013 national budget were pooled to constitute what was later known as funds for the DAP. Worse, these proclaimed savings were realigned to fund additional pork barrel allocations of several senators and congressmen, further aggravated by the ill-timed conviction of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona by the Senate acting as an impeachment court, and in direct contravention of Art. VI, Sec. 25, Paragraph 5 of the 1987 Constitution, which clearly proscribes cross-border realignment.
While I feel for the former president, the question on his possible culpability on the actions taken by his DBM secretary will largely depend on the documents and paper trail made available to the Ombudsman prosecutors to prove or disprove his direct or indirect participation.
What is clear, though, is that former President Aquino did not pocket any DAP money, hence the case filed is for usurpation of legislative powers and not violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.