Ombudsman junks bribery, graft case vs Arroyos

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales finds insufficient evidence to support the case

MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has dismissed a bribery and corruption case against former President and now Pampanga Rep Gloria Arroyo, her husband and several others in connection with the 2004 elections.

In a 43-page resolution approved on May 25, the Ombudsman said she found insufficient evidence to support the case against Arroyo, her husband Jose Miguel and 5 former government officials who were accused of conspiring to bribe election officials in Mindanao to ensure she won the presidential race.

“The complaint contains bare allegations and pieces of evidence that are unsubscribed, unauthenticated and recanted affidavits or statements,” Morales said in the resolution. 

She added the allegations did not “engender a well-founded belief that the crimes have been committed and that the accused are probably guilty thereof and should stand trial.”

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Pacasirang Batidor, Ahmare Balt Lucman, Hadji Rashid Limbona and Hadji Abdullah Dalidig in August 2011.

The other respondents named in the case included former Commission on Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, former Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Director-General and former Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manger Alfonso Cusi, PPA Manager Efren Ballozos, former Department of Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera, and former Shariah Circuit Court Judge Nagamura Moner.

Among others, the complaint alleged that the respondents provided transportation through the grant of 12 multi-cab vehicles and the use of a helicopter, and distributed envelopes containing money to election officers during the 2004 elections in several areas in Mindanao.

On the allegation of bribery, Morales said the complainants failed to identify the recipients of the bribe and establish they were indeed public officers. “Before a prosecutor can declare there is probable cause for said felony, there should be proof or showing that the recipients are public officers,” she said.

Morales also dismissed the allegation that the respondents conspired to cheat in the elections. She said the degree of proof required to establish the crime is also required to support there is conspiracy.

“For conspiracy to exist, two or more persons must come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it… Conspiracy must never be presumed.”

Arroyo is under hospital arrest at the Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City for graft and electoral sabotage cases. Her husband was slapped with graft charges by the Ombudsman on Wednesday, June 6, for the sale of second-hand choppers to the Philippine National Police in 2009 and 2010. – Rappler.com

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