BENIGNO Aquino II, widely known as PNoy during his 2010-to-2016 presidential term, is facing charges not for stealing public money but for usurping official functions.
It was not even he who actually usurped functions. PNP chief Alan Purisima allegedly did. PNoy, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales ruled, as president “conspired with” or “failed to prevent” Purisima from acting as PNP chief even though he was suspended at the time the January 2015 Mamasampano operation was conducted and spectacularly botched.
Slow down a bit on the charges that Morales approved. How could he be “conspiring with” Purisima (and SAF chief Getulio Napeñas) and at the same time “failing to prevent” Purisima from still acting as PNP chief? She must still not be sure if PNoy “conspired” with them; thus, the fallback that he failed to “prevent” it.
It’s also graft
The law calls it graft although nobody was enriched and the state didn’t lose money, which is the layman’s understanding of graft. The act of graft was PNoy’s alleged “persuasion, inducement, or influence” on suspended Purisima for him to continue acting as PNP chief and violate the law or the rules while doing so.
What to prove
Prosecutors have to prove:
PNoy allowed Purisima to usurp functions;
Purisima did usurp those functions; and
PNoy conspired with Purisima and Napeñas in the usurpation of functions.
That could be tough as PNoy, then the commander-in-chief, could tap advice from people he chose, even those not holding office.
If Purisima gave PNoy advice, did that constitute exercise of the PNP chief’s functions? Could prosecutors prove Purisima actually ran the “Oplan Exodus” that resulted in the death of 44 SAF commandos and 23 civilians?
The conspiracy thing could be tricky since during the public debate and Senate hearings the alleged conspirators offered conflicting versions.
PNoy said Napeñas didn’t follow his orders and the SAF chief said he merely followed orders. How could they have conspired among themselves, including Pusisima who said he merely gave suggestions?
What would’ve been more apt are charges for bad or poor presidential judgment. But there’s no law against that, is there?
If a wrong decision results in a disaster, as it did in Mamasapano, the remedy then would’ve been impeachment or repudiation by voters. No more time for the first; the second succeeded with the 2016 loss of PNoy’s surrogate, Mar Roxas.
Like a bus owner
One year after he stepped down, PNoy could’ve been accused of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides, as an anti-crime group charged. That could’ve been a little easier to prove. He approved the use of police trained in urban warfare and an operation that would violate the ceasefire agreement with MILF.
That was being reckless, like a transport owner and manager who, knowing his vehicle had faulty brakes or clueless about the risk, would send a busload of passengers to their death on Manipis road.
Or, if we must indulge the conspiracy theorists, did Morales subtly offer a legal escape hatch for Noynoy?
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on July 18, 2017.
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