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As I See It

DAP bribes exposed during Corona trial

/ 07:55 PM October 06, 2013

During the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, one of Corona’s defense lawyers, Jose Roy, revealed that he received information that the Aquino administration was preparing to pay P100 million to every senator who would vote to convict Corona. The senators pounced on Roy and demanded that he apologize to them—which he did.

It has turned out that he was right. The administration did pay all senators, except the three who voted to acquit, from P50 million to P100 million each, and the congressmen who signed the impeachment complaint P15 million each. Shouldn’t the senators now apologize to Roy?

If they were preparing to pay off lawmakers that early, then the P50 million to P100 million paid to each senator from the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) can’t be anything else but a “bribe.” It was probably around that time that the Department of Budget and Management invented the DAP and decided to use billions of pesos in savings for the bribes.

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Aquino and his boys now claim that it was not a bribe because the sums were given months “after” the vote. A bribe, they say, is given before the deed that the bribe seeks to influence. As I wrote in an earlier column, that is a wrong interpretation of the law.

According to the law, a bribe can be given “before,” “during” and “after” the deed. In fact, even if there is no actual payoff, the mere promise of a “reward” already constitutes a “bribe.”

Under the present circumstances, is it not logical to assume that during the impeachment trial, the congressmen and senators heard voices whispering to them that there would be millions of pesos in rewards if and when Corona is convicted?

After being trapped while trying to wiggle out of the DAP payoffs, Malacañang now admits that DAP funds may indeed have been “misused.” In that case, shouldn’t the officials responsible for the “misuse” be penalized to teach them a lesson, and so they would be careful next time and not make a mistake again? Shouldn’t those who made the mistake resign now to relieve the President the burden of carrying them on his back?

Considering his namby-pamby attitude, the President may not have the guts to tell his allies to resign although he wants them to, but they should not wait for it. They shouldn’t be a burden to their already troubled boss, whose own bosses, the citizens, want him to crack down hard on corruption. They should resign now before being forced out. That is the honorable thing to do. Clinging to one’s position (like the Customs officials who refuse to be reassigned) is not honorable. In fact, it is downright disgusting.

* * *

With so many defendants in the pork barrel, Malampaya and soon, DAP cases, and considering the notorious slowness of our courts in deciding cases, some of them may be dead due to old age before the trials are completed. For example, is it necessary for the Office of the Ombudsman to take up “one year or less” to determine probable cause in the P10-billion pork barrel scam case against Janet Lim-Napoles, the lawmakers and other conspirators?

Law professor Alan Paguia says it should not. The evidence is there in black and white, a truckload of documents compiled by the Commission on Audit, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Justice. All the Ombudsman has to do, Paguia claims, is to determine the authenticity of these documentary evidence and the reply-affidavits of the defendants. A long, drawn-out direct and cross examination of witnesses is not necessary, he says. That can be done in the trial proper.

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And why should court hearings be held only once a month? Why not daily to get it over and done with quickly?

Our courts, including the Supreme Court, are notorious for being very slow. The principle of “justice delayed is justice denied” has no effect on them. Look at the cases against Imelda Marcos. It has been decades since she and her husband and their cohorts were chased out of Malacañang by People Power, but her cases have still to be finished, no thanks to an incompetent Presidential Commission on Good Government. Not only is she still free and arrogantly strutting around as if she were still the first lady, she even sits in Congress as representative of Ilocos Norte.

Look at the plunder case against Jocjoc Bolante relative to the P728-million fertilizer scam. Not only is he out of prison, he was also able to run for public office. Fortunately, he lost.

The Department of Agriculture, it seems, has not learned its lesson from Bolante’s fertilizer scam. Now it is involved in another million-peso scam, this time in Napoles’ own billion-peso pork barrel scam.

Look at what is happening to the trial of the Maguindanao massacre. Until now, the court is still hearing the bail petition of the Ampatuans and their codefendants. The trial proper has not started yet. This, in spite of the fact that a judge was assigned especially to hasten the trial.

And these are only the high-profile cases. There are thousands of other cases crawling through the judicial system at a snail’s pace.

The P-Noy administration is being bandied about as a “government of reforms.” But he has forgotten judicial reforms. Can’t the chief justice he appointed, Maria Lourdes Sereno, do something to speed up the wheels of justice? The angry citizens would like to see somebody sentenced to long prison terms before these scandals are forgotten.

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TAGS: corona impeachment, Disbursement Acceleration Program, nation, news, pork barrel
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