The best evidence of the practice of selective justice under former President Noynoy Aquino was the Malampaya fund scam in which billions of pesos of proceeds from the Malampaya natural gas project were misused.
Unlike the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam that was probed inside and out primarily to run after political opponents of the previous regime, the misuse of the Malampaya funds which ranged from estimates of P900 million to several billions of pesos in allocations to government agencies particularly the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and eventually to the pockets of legislators was never subjected to a serious investigation.
The Commission on Audit (CoA) issued a special report in 2014 on the handling of the funds that revealed the possible misuse of at least P39 billion from 2004 to 2012 or an amount almost four times that of the PDAF scandal.
The failure to investigate the mess was in consideration of then President Noynoy Aquino and his allies who are being implicated in the misuse of the fund.
The CoA identified former officials of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and other government agencies under the Arroyo and Aquino administrations as liable for the misuse of the funds.
The audit showed it took only less than three months, from October to December 2009, for a P900-million Malampaya allocation to the DAR to vanish also through the syndicate of pork barrel operators Benhur Luy and Janet Lim Napoles in collaboration with DAR officials and with mainly allies of Noynoy as beneficiaries.
Under Section 8 of Presidential Decree 910 signed by the late President Ferdinand Marcos and which created the fund, it was stated that the special fund shall be used “only to finance energy resource development and exploitation.”
A 2013 Supreme Court decision outlawing the PDAF also upheld the requirement that the Malampaya fund should be used solely for energy exploitation and development projects.
The CoA report said P36.2 billion was released to 62 government implementing agencies through 184 special allotment release orders (SARO) which may not be in accordance with the purpose of the law.
The releases were made by the DBM despite the absence of required documents such as formal requests from the implementing agencies, approval from the Office of the President, endorsement from the Department of Energy, according to the audit.
The audit also pointed to Department of National Defense receiving the biggest share from the fund at P7.2 billion.
During the term of Noynoy, the fund was used for the purchase of two decommissioned Hamilton-class cutters of the US Coastguard which are now the flagships of the Philippine Navy.
At that time, Noynoy was an eager partner of former US President Barack Obama in the military pivot to Asia that was meant to contain China.
Despite the willingness of a supposed whistle-blower in the PDAF scam, Ruby Tuason, a former aide of pork barrel scam accused Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, to reveal what she knew, only perfunctory probes were done under Noynoy’s term.
In one of the few Senate hearings held, economic officials of Noynoy admitted that the collections from the Malampaya royalties that reached P130 billion were used as a general fund and were juggled to fund other projects contrary to the provisions of the law.
The probe on the fund should also include an admission by economic officials of the previous regime that it existed only on paper and it was already depleted.
Then National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon told Senate probers: “There’s no more cash” to show for the Malampaya fund.
Former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the treatment of the fund was that it existed merely in the accounting books but the cash was already used to cover shortfalls in the budget.
Exactly a year ago, Sen. Win Gatchalian promised to undertake a “full inquiry” into the scam, saying it is the duty of Congress “to find out where the funds went.”
Up to now, such duty remains to be performed.