P366-million Plunder Case vs Gloria Arroyo

By Perfecto Raymundo

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to stop the Sandiganbayan from proceeding with the P366-million plunder case filed against her.

In an 81-page petition for certiorari and prohibition, Mrs. Arroyo, through her counsel Anacleto Diaz, also asked the SC to reverse the finding of probable cause by the Office of the Ombudsman and order the dismissal of the plunder case against her.

Mrs. Arroyo is set for arraignment on Monday, Oct. 29, before the Sandiganbayan First Division in connection with the P366-million plunder case for allegedly funnelling money from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s confidential fund for over three years.

Mrs. Arroyo, who now represents the second district of Pampanga, is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City after the Sandiganbayan ordered her arrest.

Aside from Arroyo, her co-accused are former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte; chairman Sergio Valencia, directors Manuel Morato, Raymundo Roquero, Jose Taruc V and Ma. Fatima Valdes; former Commission on Audit chair Reynaldo Villar and COA Region V director Nilda Plaras, and PCSO assistant general manager for finance Benigno Aguas.

Both Valencia and Aguas are under the custody of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

In her petition, Arroyo said there is no evidence to show she participated in the so-called “grand conspiracy” to plunder the intelligence funds of the PCSO.

The petition said that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales herself admitted that Arroyo’s participation in the release of PCSO funds was merely approving the request for Confidential/Intelligence Funds.

“According to the Ombudsman, the acts of authorizing the disbursement, release and use of PCSO’s CIF involved discretionary acts of the concerned PCSO officials,” the petition said.

“Clearly, therefore, to hold petitioner GMA liable, there must be evidence that she also participated or was involved in the separate discretionary acts of the PCSO…The Ombudsman should not have stretched her findings to indict petitioner GMA for acts which she did not do or cause to be done,” the petition added.

The petition moreover said if the Ombudsman dismissed the plunder case against former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita because he merely approved the request for additional CIF by Uriarte, the case against Arroyo should also be dismissed because what she did was similar to that of Ermita.

It added the case against Arroyo has “undertones of political harassment,” with the complainants known allies of the present administration.

The petition also took note of the fact that the Ombudsman filed the plunder case before the Sandiganbayan a few days before the State-of-the-Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III on July 23, 2012.

It also said that the warrant for Arroyo’s arrest was issued at the time of the filing of her certificate of candidacy.

Arroyo is seeking a second term as representative of the second district of Pampanga.

The complaint against them was approved and filed by the Ombudsman in July this year.

The respondents allegedly conspired in withdrawing, amassing, accumulating public funds worth more than P300 million from July 2007 to January 2010.

Uriarte allegedly wrote several letters to Arroyo to authorize her to utilize the intelligence funds for PCSO to help them in conducting intelligence operations.

During the Senate investigation in-aid of legislation last year, Uriarte said that the CIF was used to investigate how medicine given to beneficiaries ended up in commercial markets and the creation of measures to counter scams victimizing lotto bettors.

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