Ombudsman junks Arroyo malversation rapsBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines–The Office of the Ombudsman dismissed for lack of evidence the technical malversation case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and several others in connection with the alleged misuse of P530-million funds intended for overseas Filipino workers.
The Ombudsman order is contained in a 47 page memorandum and an 11 page supplemental memorandum which was approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales dated June 14 and October 12, respectively.
Aside from Arroyo, the Ombudsman also ordered the dismissal of case against former President and CEO of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. [PHIC])Francisco Duque III; former Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo; and former Chairman of the OWWA Board of Trustees Patricia Sto. Tomas, and former OWWA Board of Trustees Members Virgilio Angelo, Manuel Imson, Rosalinda Baldoz, Mina Figueroa, Caroline Rogge, Victorino Balais, Gregorio Oca and Virginia Pasalo.
The Ombudsman rebuked the findings of the Department of Justice citing lack of evidence against the respondents.
The Ombudsman said the funds could not have been used for the reelection of Arroyo because it was actually released in 2005 or a year after the Presidential elections.
“The truth that the OWWA Medicare funds were released only in 2005 or after the election in 2004, and only subsequent to the issuance by the OWWA Board of Resolution effecting the transfer of the funds and with the effectivity of the IRR of EO 182 (Transferring the Medicare funds and the Medicare functions of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation) as amended, only prove that respondents Duque, Macapagal-Arroyo and the OWWA Board never intended that the OWWA Medical funds be diverted for purposes other than to benefit the Filipino Overseas Contract Workers,” the memorandum stated.
Also, the Ombudsman took note of the report from the Commission on Audit dated Feb. 28, 2006 and March 15, 2007 which confirms that the P530 million OWWA funds were transferred to PHIC and used for the benefit of OFWs.
On the other hand, the Ombudsman also cleared Arroyo for approving the release of US$293,500 OWWA funds.
The Ombudsman said it was legal for Arroyo to allow such disbursement since it is part of the $1million contingency fund for OFWs caught in conflict areas in the Middle East.