Aquino: Gov't may re-file fertilizer scam case vs Arroyo
MANILA, Philippines – Reacting to the Office of the Ombudsman's decision to clear former President and incumbent Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the P728-million fertilizer scam, President Benigno Aquino III said the administration may re-file the case if it finds suffificent evidence.
He clarified, however, that Arroyo is not the government's only priority.
On Sunday, May 11, Aquino emphasized it was not the government that filed the dismissed case relating to the fertilizer scam. It was filed by several anti-Arroyo groups, and the Ombudsman said they failed to present documentary or testimonial evidence that would prove Arroyo's involvement in the scheme.
Aquino said what his administration filed against Arroyo were 3 cases: a plunder case relating to the Malampaya Fund, another plunder case involving the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) fund, and an electoral sabotage case .
"If we are able to get the necessary evidence, to make a stronger case [on the fertilizer scam], then that can be refiled," Aquino said.
The President did highlight the fact, however, that it "will not file a frivolous case just to harass anybody."
"My promise to the Filipino people has always been: We will go where the evidence points us to," he said.
"If you file a frivolous case, knowing that it's frivolous, you are guaranteeing that the person gets off scot-free because double jeopardy comes in. So my instruction has always been: Do not file until you are sure that the evidence is strong."
But Aquino emphasized Arroyo "is not the only one we are going after."
He cited the government's crackdown on tax evaders, and said he had ordered a probe on one particular agency "that really thinks they can pull a fast one on me."
"For now I will not issue a warning for the agency we are currently investigating. But can I just say that this group is so thick-faced," he said, refusing to name names.
"The scheme they use has reached me, and the initial investigation of the affidavits are saying these things. They really feel as if they will never get caught…. I will prove to them that is not the case," the President said.
Aside from the Department of Justice's continuous investigation into the involvement of lawmakers in the pork barrel scam – known as the country's biggest corruption scandal in recent history – Aquino said going after groups involved in blacksand mining is another one of the state's priorities. – Rappler.com