Confidential Drilon memo key to DAP issue - lawyer
MANILA -- Lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the “private and confidential letter-memorandum” supposedly issued by Senator Franklin Drilon that contained the incentive given to senators after the ouster of Chief Justice Renato Corona would be key in assessing if there was indeed bribery.
“For sure, the said memorandum contains material information explaining in detail the purpose or reason why the said amount was allocated for the said senators. And if the amount was intended for public use, why would Drilon make it a ‘private and confidential’ memorandum instead of an official and public communication,” he said.
It was Senator Jinggoy Estrada who detailed the supposed contents of the letter during a privilege speech more than a week ago but he has not given copies to the media or to the public.
Later, Budget Secretary Butch Abad would defend the release of the funds, which he tagged as the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds that was meant to spur the infrastructure industry.
Two of the three senators who voted to acquit Corona did not receive any.
Former Senator Joker Arroyo was one of those who voted to acquit Corona, but his name appeared in Abad’s list. Arroyo later denied receiving any amount referring to the DAP, which he described as illegal.
Macalintal said Estrada should be compelled by the Senate or any investigative body to produce the document.
“The House of Representatives may likewise subpoena the said document from Estrada without necessarily requiring the latter's presence or testimony to avoid the oft-repeated defense of ‘parliamentary courtesy’ among members of both Houses of Congress,” he said.
He pointed out that Estrada can be punished for “serious disorderly behavior” and subsequently suspended or expelled if he refuses to submit a copy of the document.
Macalintal said the letter may indicate acts of bribery even if it was only a promise of sorts, citing Article 211 of the Revised Penal Code punishes a publish official who performs his duties in consideration of any offer, promise, gift or present.
He explained that even if the gift or promise was given after the performance of the act in connection with his office, the public official may still be liable under Presidential Decree No. 46 issued on November 10, 1972.
“Included within the prohibition under this decree is the throwing of parties or entertainments in honor of the official or employees or his immediate relatives,” Macalintal explained.