Palace unfazed by dismissal of cases vs Gloria Arroyo
MANILA, Philippines—The courts throwing out cases against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo one after another will not jeopardize President Aquino’s campaign to exact accountability from the allegedly corrupt Arroyo administration, according to a Malacañang mouthpiece.
“We must make a distinction between cases that are being built up by the DOJ (Department of Justice) and the government, and cases that are being filed by third parties,” said Ricky Carandang, the strategic communication secretary.
The cases filed by “other parties” were the ones that have been dismissed, he said.
According to Carandang, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had told him that the latest case to have been dismissed by the courts was filed by “someone we did not personally know or coordinate with.”
“The Department of Justice did not find sufficient strength in the allegation, so that was dismissed,” he said.
He must have been referring to the Jan. 17 decision by Supreme Court’s 3rd Division that upheld the Office of the Ombudsman’s dismissal of a criminal complaint against Arroyo over the alleged misuse of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) funds during her term.
The Ombudsman had upheld the legality of the transfer of P530,382,445 from the Owwa Medicare Fund to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
The Ombudsman also did not find anything irregular in the transfer of $350,000 from the Owwa Capital Fund to labor attaches in the Middle East during the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the US-led coalition in 2003.
In early February, Arroyo scored a legal victory when the Manila Prosecutors Office ruled that she was not criminally liable for the November 2009 Maguindanao massacre that left 58 people dead.
The prosecutors dismissed a criminal negligence case filed against Arroyo by Marconi Abdulaziz Paiso, a candidate for vice governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Carandang claimed that the DOJ cases against Arroyo are “more airtight” because they underwent “case build-up” and thorough investigation.
Arroyo is still facing several cases related to her acts as President: electoral sabotage charge pending in a Pasay City court, and alleged misuse of more than P300 million of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds, and plunder for the botched $329-million NBN-ZTE deal at the Sandiganbayan.