Arroyo allies question Ombudsman move to upgrade PCSO case to plunderBy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — Allies of former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo want the Ombudsman to explain why it had rejected the findings of a panel of prosecutors clearing Arroyo of plunder in the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds.
Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez cited reports stating that the first panel of prosecutors that looked into the PCSO case, led by Cornelio Somido, had found no probable cause against Arroyo for plunder.
But the panel’s findings were reportedly not approved by the Ombudsman. A second panel was later formed, and this indicted the former President for the non-bailable offense of plunder for allegedly misusing P366 million in charity funds.
The plunder case was filed against Arroyo and nine others before the Sandiganbayan in July, and the former President was ordered arrested in October. She is currently detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center.
“And so we raise the question what was the basis of the Ombudsman for rejecting and then ordering the creation of another panel of prosecutors and graft investigators who, through a review resolution, upgraded the charges to plunder, a non-bailable offense,” Suarez said.
He also said the members of the minority were backing Arroyo’s motion before the Sandiganbayan, where it asked that the Office of the Ombudsman be compelled to produce the initial findings on her plunder case.
Aside from plunder, Arroyo is also facing an electoral sabotage charge before the Pasay City regional trial court, and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan for her approval of the allegedly overpriced national broadband network deal with China’s ZTE Corporation.
Tags: Crime , Danilo Suarez , Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo , House minority , House minority leader , House of Representatives , law and justice , News , Ombudsman , Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office , Plunder , Politics