More could have been done to convict Arroyo—solon
A militant lawmaker on Tuesday slammed the Supreme Court (SC) decision dismissing the remaining plunder case against former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate lamented that more could have been done by the previous administration to strengthen the case against Arroyo and “make the former President accountable.”
“Unfortunately, it seems that the previous Aquino administration was merely contented in keeping her politically paralyzed in the past six years rather than obtaining a conviction. This is a certainly a setback, but, this should not derail us from continuing our campaign for accountability and against impunity,” Zarate said in a statement.
“More could have been done to strengthen the case and make the former President accountable. Dapat managot ang lahat na sangkot sa katiwalian, hindi lang si dating presidente Arroyo, dapat higit pati si Noynoy Aquino (former President Benigno Aquino III), at kanilang mga kasapakat (All those involved in corruption should be held accountable, not only former President Arroyo but most especially Noynoy Aquino and their accomplices),” he added.
In an 11-4 vote, the high tribunal granted Arroyo’s petition seeking the dismissal of her remaining plunder case at the Sandiganbayan for the alleged misuse of the P366-million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) fund.
Arroyo was arrested in 2011 on electoral fraud charges in connection with the 2007 polls but was allowed bail in 2012. However, before she could be freed, the Sandiganbayan ordered her arrest on charges of plunder involving alleged misuse of P366 million in intelligence funds of the PCSO when she was President.
Former Speaker Prospero Nograles, who served during Arroyo’s term, said “it’s about time” that Arroyo be freed from detention and join her fellow lawmakers to share her expertise “as one of the country’s best economists.”
“I am happy that she can now continue serving our nation without any restriction. With her release from the Veterans Hospital after four years of hospital arrest, she can again join debates and discussions in Congress to share her expertise not only as former President but as one of the country’s best economists,” Nograles said in a statement, calling the decision “overdue delayed justice.”
“Now it can be revealed that whatever economic gains that our country has achieved, all these is because of the economic foundations that were set in place during her administration and not after as claimed by the previous dispensation,” he added.
Nograles served as Speaker from 2008 to 2010.
In a statement, Arroyo on Tuesday expressed her gratitude to the SC for the favorable ruling and to President Rodrigo Duterte for “allowing due process to take its course totally unhampered.”
On the campaign trail, Duterte promised he would release Arroyo from detention if elected President due to weak evidence. Duterte said the former President declined his offer of pardon. RAM/rga
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