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‘I am not sorry’

CRIMINALS looking for role models need look no further than the complex of buildings along the Pasig River. Here, top government officials do as they please with complete disregard of the law. When called to answer for their transgressions, they follow the code of the petty thug: Never admit wrongdoing and brazen your way out of a fix.

This is certainly what the Aquino administration is doing, now that the Supreme Court has ruled that several actions that it took under its Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) were unconstitutional.

This included the diversion of funds from congressionally approved projects to those that were not even in the national budget, as well as transferring funds from the Executive department to the legislature as a way to reward lawmakers who helped President Benigno Aquino III impeach and oust his political nemesis, the former chief justice of the Supreme Court.

A law-abiding official might appear contrite after such a legal debacle, but this President would have none of that.

“If you say we need to apologize, that means we committed a wrongdoing. We did not commit any wrongdoing,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda added that Malacañang does not regret diverting funds from some projects to the DAP, saying they acted in good faith.

“How does one regret a decision to help thousands of people, of our countrymen? These are noble projects which have benefited the people. We cannot step back and say we regret doing those things that benefited the people,” Lacierda said.

Parsing his words, Lacierda added that unconstitutionality “does not equate to wrongdoing or criminality.”

But at least two justices of the Supreme Court, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Arturo Brion, said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad had known that what they were trying to do with DAP was unconstitutional all along, negating the Palace argument of “good faith.”

They added that Abad admitted to the Court that the DAP as well as the actions taken under it were approved by the President.

Congressional records, too, show that President Aquino knew without a doubt that what they were doing was wrong. As a senator in 2008, in fact, he wrote a bill that would have banned many of the activities that this administration undertook under the DAP.

All right-thinking people would believe that what was illegal under the Arroyo administration should also be illegal under the Aquino government.

But this administration, as it has demonstrated time and again, believes it is above the law.

The Palace mouthpiece claims that there is a distinction between what is unconstitutional and what is illegal. We urge the spokesman to consider that the Constitution is defined as the basic law of the land, and any violation of the law is by definition illegal.

Perhaps he needs to be reminded, too, that President swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, not try to run rings around it, or violate provisions that he finds inconvenient.

Thus far, we have yet to hear directly from the President, who has allowed his minions to take the heat. With his credibility rapidly eroding, he should consider another nationally televised address on his disgraced program and look us in the eye and say: “I am not sorry.”

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