Doubts cast on Ombudsman’s award

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… It is time for you to act, Lord; your law is being broken…” (Psalms 119:126, the Holy Bible).


DOUBTS CAST ON OMBUDSMAN’S AWARD: Lawyer Levi Baligod, wittingly or unwittingly, may have cast a shadow of doubt over the award given the other day by the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, the only Filipino among the foundation’s five awardees for this year.

Baligod spoke to media hours after Morales received the award Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, virtually challenging her choice as an awardee, with his disclosure that, for P100 million that was given to the Liberal Party, the Aquino government sabotaged the investigation of the P10 billion pork barrel scam which caused the incarceration of three incumbent senators in 2015.

Morales, of course, was appointed chief graft buster shortly after President Benigno Aquino III, a Liberal Party (LP) stalwart, was installed president. She controlled the preliminary investigation of the graft and plunder cases that the Department of Justice, then under Secretary (now senator) Leila De Lima, filed with her office, controlling who should be charged—or not to be charged—in connection with the P10 billion scam.


MORALES MUST SEEK CLARIFICATION: If I were Morales, I will press Baligod to clarify his expose (see, where he claimed that P100 million was given to LP as campaign funds by Janet Lim Napoles, the businesswoman who is being accused of having reaped billions of pesos from non-existent projects using pork barrel funds of lawmakers.

Another claim made by the lawyer is that Napoles also gave campaign funds to a candidate for a national position during the 2016 elections. The candidate won, Baligod said in his interview, capping his disclosures with a serious charge: that the Aquino government sabotaged the pork barrel investigation initially pursued by De Lima, and then handled by Morales, the Magsaysay awardee.

This is of course a very serious accusation that casts grave doubts about the prestigious award—said to be Asia’s version of Europe’s Nobel Peace Prize—that the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation bestowed on Morales on Wednesday. Baligod, or perhaps even Morales, must clarify this issue, to avoid smearing the names of innocent parties.


DOUBLE STANDARD IN PLUNDER RAPS: But, truth to tell, there have been rumblings earlier about the selective prosecution of those involved in the scam. In 2014, I wrote: “With due respect, I am sorry I can’t agree with the euphoria being contrived by the Aquino government and its minions over the filing of the plunder charges against nine people, including Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. and Janet Napoles, in connection with the P10 billion pork barrel scam.

“This is not democracy at work, really. It is double standard at its prime. It is a shameless political persecution against political enemies, to favor political allies. It is a nauseating reality that in the Philippines, the drive for power for one’s self and for the anointed protégés is all consuming, and ever more important than the welfare and well-being of the citizenry.

“Why am I saying this? For a number of reasons. The first is that, when Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla were subjected to purported investigation by the Aquino government for the scam, the very evidence that was used against them already indicated the participation of Aquino allies. Yet, these allies miraculously escaped investigation and, now, prosecution…” These things must be explained now, under the Duterte government.


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