Ombudsman looks into new plunder complaint vs Gloria Arroyo
MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman is conducting preliminary investigation into another plunder complaint against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The new complaint involves over P57 million worth of PCSO intelligence funds allegedly misused from 2004 to 2007.
This was announced by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Wednesday, July 20, a day after the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed the plunder case filed 4 years ago by the Ombudsman against the former Chief Executive.
The SC on Tuesday, July 19, dismissed the plunder case against Arroyo, more than 4 years after the Ombudsman charged her for allegedly misusing P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.
Morales said they would challenge the ruling, starting with a motion for reconsideration. She refused to say what other options they are considering, as she does not want to “open the eyes of [our] detractors.”
“We were able to present a strong evidence consisting of 630 plus documentary exhibits and testimony witnesses which are reflected in 43 transcripts, as well as records of the case from A to Z consisting of 40-plus folder records of the case,” Morales said.
Morales cited some of the points that make her believe there was sufficient evidence to pursue the plunder case against Arroyo:
PCSO funds went to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Bureau of Investigation, which both denied requesting for intelligence funds.
Former PCSO budget officer Benigno Aguas, who was also covered by the case, testified under oath that P244 million of the supposedly misused PCSO funds went to the Office of the President.
“In our comment to the petition of GMA before the SC, we emphasized the fact that 244 plus million [pesos] went back to Malacañang, and 140 plus million [pesos] of that were given to the Office of the President in January 2010 up to June 2010, [which was an] election period,” Morales said.
Morales also pointed out that Arroyo’s principal co-accused, former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte, remains at large.
“Either she's still alive under hiding status or she's 6 feet below the ground. No one has informed [us] of her present state. As the saying goes, if you are innocent, then you are as bold as a lion but flight indicates guilt,” the Ombudsman said.
Back in detention?
The SC ruling orders Arroyo’s immediate release, but the former president remains under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) after the SC failed to serve the decision to the Sandiganbayan, which will order her discharge. (READ: TIMELINE: Gloria Arroyo – from plunder to acquittal)
Asked if Arroyo will be detained again if the second plunder complaint prospers, Morales said, “If, after preliminary investigation, we believe that there was probable cause, then we will certainly hale her to court."
Morales disputed the claim of Arroyo’s lawyer, Laurence Arroyo, that pursuing a second case would be double jeopardy since this new case covers a different period. – Rappler.com