“This proposed legislation seeks to encourage whistleblowers to come out in the open and put an end to the corrupt practices of some government officials or employees. At the same time, it aims to strengthen the present machinery in ensuring the full protection and security of these brave witnesses against any form of retaliation or ostracism, and establish a rewards-and-benefits system in order to ensure the livelihood and welfare of these whistleblowers.”
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.
The complaint stemmed from the entry of rice worth some PHP34.043 million, without the required import permits, earlier this year. It cites violations of:
– RA 10845, Sections 3a and 3c (agricultural smuggling)
– RA 3019, Sections 3e and 3j (graft and corruption)
– Grave Misconduct
– Ex-BOC commissioner Nicanor Faeldon
– NFA Administrator Jason Aquino
– Tomas Alcid, former district collector at Cagayan de Oro port
– Geniefelle Lagmay, Customs liaison officer to NFA of the Office of the BOC Commissioner
– Directors/officers of Cebu Lite Trading Inc., including Filomena Lim, Lucio Roger Lim Jr., Rowena Lim, Joselito Lopez, Josephine Rizalde, and Ambrosio Ursal Jr.
Sen. Lacson also sought the preventive suspension of Aquino, Alcid and Lagmay.