Clever ‘technical malversation’ of public funds thru Mikey’s AGP

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FORMER CHIEF Justice Artemio Panganiban brought to the fore once more the matter of  the Commission on Elections, during the administration of President Gloria Arroyo, upholding the right of Mikey Arroyo, her multimillionaire-son, to represent the underprivileged security guards via the party-list Ang Galing Pinoy (Inquirer, 10/28/12). It was timely coming as it does on the heels of the purge being done to weed out scalawags from the party-list system.  The Comelec under its current chair, Sixto Brillantes, has disqualified Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP), among other party lists, as a sham or make-believe organization.  But here’s the rub: Mikey remains a party-list “congressman”—and will remain so until 2013—because the Comelec has no jurisdiction to kick him out of Congress. That’s the job of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).

As “congressman,” Mikey will continue to enjoy receiving the salaries, emoluments, perks and privileges of the office, including all “pork barrel” allotments and all kinds of bonuses, etc. That is no piddling sum. It can run to hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ monies being put at the disposal of someone who has no legitimate right to get his hands on them!

The juridical basis for disqualifying AGP was a case decided by the Supreme Court way back in 2001 where it ruled that a party-list representative must “belong to the marginalized or underprivileged sector” he claims to represent. That was commonsensical enough. But Gloria Arroyo’s stooges in the Comelec then defied and twisted such crystal-clear ruling around by concocting the loony idea that her son’s claim of “membership” in the group on paper was enough, technically, to qualify him. Father Joaquin Bernas, SJ, pushed the envelope further: if he really has their interest “at heart,” that might work (Inquirer, 10/8/12).  (And so by dint of pure logic then, a senior citizen can represent the youth as long as he feels “young at heart”?!)

On account of the former Comelec officials’ colossal stupidity, the current Comelec is now finding itself in such a pickle it is utterly helpless to do anything about people’s monies that continue to be wasted on Arroyo. Neither has the HRET done anything to stop the travesty. We strongly suggest then that suits be commenced against Arroyo and the sycophantic Comelec officials who insulted our intelligence, to demand punishment and reimbursement of all funds unlawfully expended by Arroyo by virtue of their amentia-driven ruling perceived as nothing more than a show of how far they would go to suck up to then President Arroyo.  The way we see it, that was “technical malversation” of public funds!

—STEPHEN L. MONSANTO, Monsanto Law Office, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, lexsquar.firm@gmail.com

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