6,180

Can he get away?

Is he the one bound to evade doing time behind bars.

We pose the question because we sent two previous Presidents behind bars for high crimes and other major offenses.

Historically, retired Presidents enjoy pensioned lifestyle after serving there full terms.

They just make regular speeches.

Attend occasional state functions, and write their memoirs.

However our immediate past two Presidents spent some time in detention before getting out to seek and win elective positions.

But what fate awaits former president Benigno Aquino?

While agreeing with the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman to indict former President and former Budget Secretary Butch Abad for alleged usurpation of powers in connection with the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) controversy, Senator Richard J. Gordon said they could have been indicted for malversation and graft and corruption.

"As chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I agree with the Ombudsman that there was usurpation. But, though I don't know all the facts yet, I would have chosen the more stringent offenses which are graft and corruption and malversation. They were even guilty of malversation, technical malversation. Yung sa malversation, absorbed na ang usurpation doon e. In order to commit malversation, they usurped the powers of Congress," he said when asked in an interview over the radio.

Gordon explained that it amounts to technical malversation because Aquino and Abad tampered with the appropriations by declaring it as savings so they could spend the fund somewhere else, deliberately substituting their judgement for the judgement of Congress.

"Eto ang purpose ng Kongreso, co-equal branch of government, and then they cavalierly declare savings so they can spend the money for a purpose for which it was not intended for. Imagine, declaring savings in the middle of the year. In any language, savings can only be declared at the end of the year. They thought nobody could question them. Nakikita mo, nilulusot talaga nila. They thought they could get away with it," he said.

The lawmaker, who is also the chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, likewise pointed out that the fact that they have committed such act repeatedly - in the procurement of P3.5-billion worth of Dengvaxia vaccine and misuse of P10.6-billion PhilHealth funds allotted for senior citizens, constitute an aggravating circumstance.

"It goes into habit, which is why they should file a bigger case. Because in Dengvaxia they did the same, they transferred money. Then in the PhilHealth case, again they transferred money for purposes other than what it was intended for. So may habit. Pag may habit, that's considered aggravating," he said.

In procuring the dengue vaccine, the Aquino administration ostensibly augmented the budget for the Department of Health's Expanded Program for Immunization from the department's supposed savings from its Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund. But the amount for the supposed augmentation, which was an exception under the DAP law, was bigger than the total budget for all the 11 diseases under the EPI.

In the misuse of PhilHealth funds, on the other hand, former PhilHealth chief Alexander Padilla wrote to the Department of Budget to allow them to use P10.6-B unprogrammed appropriations for the construction of barangay health stations.