MANILA, Philippines (Updated) – The case will serve as an “acid test” to the Ombudsman.
This was the statement made by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) secretary- general Antonio Flores as the militant group filed a plunder complaint before the Ombudsman against President Benigno Aquino III, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and 10 others for their alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
Also included in the complaint are alleged pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim Napoles and her brother John Lim, as well as whistleblower Merlina Suñas.
Rappler reports showed that based on state audits of the National Agri-Business Corporation or Nabcor, a government corporation under the agriculture department, at least P1.35 billion in pork barrel have been misused. The audits cover 5 years spanning both the Arroyo and Aquino administrations, from 2007 to 2011.
Goverment auditors said the biggest chunk of Priority Development Assistance Fund of lawmakers were coursed through Nabcor over the last several years.
During the Senate hearing on the pork barrel scam on August 7, Alcala admitted that Napoles received P39 million worth of funds intended for the Department of Agriculture in 2012.
KMP’s plunder complaint read:
“His complicity to the commission of these offenses is also established by his appointment to various sensitive positions in the Department of Agriculture of the operators of the scam, which made possible the commission of the offenses undetected. He also acquiescence and approved various Memorandum of Agreements (MOA) to several local government units and allowed the proliferation of non-government organization (NGOs) through which public funds are squandered.”
KMP said the President was included in the complaint by virtue of the the “Doctrine of Qualified Political Agency,” wherein acts committed by department secretaries under the executive department are deemed acts of the President.
“Moreover, since there was no reprobation or disapproval coming from President Aquino regarding their actions, it can be easily inferred that the President acquiesced to such acts,” the complaint said.
A sitting president, however, is immune from suits. In previous plunder complaints against former president and now Pampanga Rep Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during her administration, the Ombudsman cited this position in clearing Arroyo of charges filed against her.
KMP also filed charges against Agriculture Undersecretary Antonio Fleta, Alcala’s head executive assistant Arnulfo Mañalac, Salvador Salacup, and Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos.
The National Bureau of Investigation filed the first batch of plunder and corruption cases against lawmakers found to have misused their discretionary funds. It is expected to file another round of cases soon.
Read the full complaint here: