Arroyo protests private prosecutor in plunder caseBy Cynthia D. Balana, Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Former President turned Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday opposed the entry of lawyer Lorna Kapunan as a private prosecutor in the plunder case against her in the Sandiganbayan.
In a memorandum submitted to the antigraft court’s First Division, Arroyo’s lawyer, Anecleto Diaz, cited a Supreme Court ruling that said that in a case of undue injury to the government, it should be represented by a public prosecutor in the recovery of any civil liability from the accused.
Although the offended party may be a private individual, Diaz said, it is essential that the private individual must have been “actually or directly injured” in his person, right, house, liberty of property, or that the corporate entity was damaged or injured by the acts complained of.
The party, he said, must be one that has a legal right, a substantial interest in the issue that will entitle the party to recourse under the law.
“[That] interest must be personal and not one based on a desire to vindicate the constitutional right of some third and unrelated party,” Diaz said.
The First Division last week gave Kapunan and Arroyo’s lawyers five days to comment on the question of whether or not Kapunan should be allowed to serve as a private prosecutor in the case.
Kapunan is the lawyer of private complainants Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel of Akbayan, Jaime Regalario and retired General Danilo Lim in the plunder charge earlier filed in the Office of the Ombudsman.
According to Diaz, the private complainants were not the offended parties with personal and substantial interests in the plunder case that will warrant Kapunan’s intervention.
Arroyo, along with eight former officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and the Commission on Audit (COA), is accused of misusing the PCSO’s intelligence funds. Plunder is a nonbailable offense.
On Friday, the First Division remanded the case to the Ombudsman to complete its preliminary investigation after Arroyo’s lawyers challenged the Ombudsman’s finding of probable cause.
Arroyo is free on P1-million bail in her electoral sabotage case. Preparing to run for reelection next year, she has directed the mayors in her district in Pampanga to provide her with hourly updates on the situation in their areas, her spokesperson Elena Bautista-Horn said Monday.
Arroyo returned to state-run Veterans Memorial Medical Center on Monday to resume therapy for a bone ailment.