- Posted October 2, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Philippine president charged with plunder
AN hour after Philippine President Benigno Aquino III challenged his detractors to prove their allegations of corruption, a militant group of farmers on Wednesday charged him with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Farmers’ Movement of the Philippines) also included in their plunder complaint before the graft court some Cabinet members and other government officials linked to the multibillion-peso scandal.
"The Ombudsman has the power to investigate even a sitting President and the Filipino people have every right to know his participation in the pork barrel scam. Aquino cannot hide under the mantle of presidential immunity," KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said in a statement.
Reached for their comment, Malacañang deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said: "We cannot comment on documents we haven't seen yet."
Aside from Aquino, also named as respondents in the complaint were Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Agriculture Undersecretary Antonio Fleta, Alcala's head executive assistant Arnulfo Mañalac, Agriculture assistant secretary Salvador Salacup, Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, Agriculture assistant secretary Ophelia Agawin, DA’s internal audit service director Irene Alogo, businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, Napoles's brother John Lim, and whistleblower Merlina Suñas, among others.
The respondents were also charged with corruption, malversation of public funds, and grave and serious misconduct aside from the plunder charges.
“The respondent President Benigno Simeon Aquino III is being charged in this case by virtue of the Doctrine of Qualified Political Agency. The acts committed by the department secretaries under the Executive Department are deemed acts of the President,” the KMP said.
The plunder complaint stemmed after the Agriculture Department was implicated in the P10-billion ‘pork barrel’ scam. Businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, tagged as the ‘pork scam queen,’ was at the center of the controversy. Napoles’ supposed nongovernment organizations utilized lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations, commonly known as pork barrel.
The Agriculture Department served as one of the implementing agencies of PDAF disbursing the funds to purported bogus NGOs.
Napoles and other lawmakers are facing a separate plunder complaint filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) before the graft court.
The farmers’ group explained that the Ombudsman may investigate the current President.
“Under the Constitution, this Office has the power to investigate or conduct an independent investigation even of a sitting President to determine his complicity on the offenses charged for purpose later on of filing an impeachment case against him," the KMP noted.
The farmers’ group asked the Ombusdman to place the respondents under preventive suspension.
“We also urged the Honorable Office to immediately place the above-named public respondents in preventive suspension. More importantly, their continued stay in office will definitely prejudice this case because they have access to the files and records and could easily alter or forge them,” the farmers’ complaint said.
The complaint added: “The charges against them constitute grave criminal offenses… which would warrant dismissal from service. The evidence of guilt against them is also strong.”