SC upholds dismissal of malversation raps vs Arroyo
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court has ruled that the Ombudsman did not err in dismissing the malversation charges filed against Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in connection with the alleged misuse of funds of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
The SC third division, in a resolution dated January 17 but made public only on Wednesday, February 6, upheld the Ombudsman's findings that there was nothing remiss in the transfer of some P530-M in OWWA funds to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (Philhealth) in 2004.
The third division is chaired by Justice Presbitero Velasco. Its members are Justices Diosdado Peralta, Roberto Abad, and Jose Mendoza.
The Ombudsman also said in 2012 that Arroyo's transfer of some $350,000 in OWWA Capital Funds to labor attaches in the Middle East is legal.
"Unless tainted with grave abuse of discretion, the judgments and orders of the Ombudsman shall not be reversed, modified, or otherwise interfered with by the Court," the SC said.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the dismissal of the technical malversation charges against Arroyo and 11 other officials from Philhealth and OWWA in 2012.
Those who were exonerated include:
- Former President and CEO of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PHIC) Francisco Duque III
- Former Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo
- Former OWWA Chairman of Board of Trustees Patricia Sto Tomas
- OWWA Board of Trustees members Virgilio Angelo, Manuel Imson, Rosalinda Baldoz, Mina Figueroa, Caroline Rogge, Victorino Balais, Gregorio Oca, and Virginia Pasalo
Former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez filed a plunder case against Arroyo over the alleged misuse of the funds in 2011. He said the president does not have the power to convert OWWA funds – which are $25-payments from overseas Filipino workers – into public funds.
The Department of Justice downgraded the charges to technical malversation, however, and made the same recommendations to the Office of the Ombudsman, which dismissed the charges in October 2012 due to insufficient evidence.
Chavez said he will file a motion for reconsideration. – Rappler.com