Morales: Ruling merit-based, not to satisfy public

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Thursday defended her decision to indict former President Benigno Aquino III and former Budget chief Florencio Abad for usurpation of legislative powers instead of graft and malversation, saying the ruling was based on merit and evidence and was not intended to satisfy public expectation.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales
“We decide cases when they are ripe for resolution. If they are not for resolution, we do not prematurely decide cases just to cater to public expectation,” she said.

She denied allegations of President Rodrigo Duterte that she sat on the P72-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program case involving Aquino and Abad.

“Sitting on the cases? I am always saying we go by the evidence. If the case is complicated, it takes a longer time. But if it’s simple, it does not take that much time,” she said.

The charges arose from the unlawful issuance of National Budget Circular No. 541 to implement the P72-billion DAP that authorized the withdrawal of unobligated allotments of agencies with low levels of obligations as of June 30, 2012.

“A re-evaluation of the case establishes that the individual actions of respondent Aquino and respondent-movant Abad showed a joint purpose and design to encroach on the powers of Congress by expanding the meaning of savings to fund programs, activities, and projects under the DAP,” the Ombudsman resolution read.

“Abad’s act of issuing NBC 541 cannot be viewed in a vacuum. The evidence on record shows that an exchange of memoranda between [Aquino] and [Abad] precipitated its issuance. Verily, without the approval of the said memoranda by respondent Aquino, NBC 541 would not have been issued.”

“Respondent Aquino, by marginal notes, specified his unqualified approval on the following requests: (1) grant of omnibus authority to consolidate fiscal year 2012 savings/unutilized balances and its realignment; and (2) grant of authority to withdraw unobligated balances of national government agencies for slow-moving projects/expenditures as of 30 June 2012 and its realignment.”

The Ombudsman said Aquino had the authority and the duty to look into each item on the memorandum before signifying his approval.

“An examination of the memorandum would show that respondent Aquino made marginal notes on several expenditure items and on the approval page. Such marginal notes show meaningful discussion between respondents and not mere reliance of a superior on a subordinate,” the Ombudsman said.

In 2014, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the following acts committed in pursuance of the DAP.

Topics: Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales , President Benigno Aquino III , Florencio Abad , President Rodrigo Duterte
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