Ombudsman junks 2nd plunder raps vs Arroyo
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed another plunder complaint filed against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and several other officials for the alleged misuse of P73 million in intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
The case was different from the plunder case involving P366 million in PCSO intelligence funds that the Supreme Court dismissed in July 2016 for lack of evidence.
Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered a preliminary investigation into P73-million graft complaint a day after the Supreme Court dismissed the P366-million case.
No proof of misuse
Morales asserted there was probable cause to pursue the case but graft prober Lucielo Ramirez Jr. wrote in a Feb. 13 resolution that there was no proof that Arroyo and her corespondents misused P73.617 million from the PCSO’s confidential and intelligence fund (CIF).
The complaint charged that Arroyo, former PCSO General Manager Rosario Uriarte, former PCSO Chair Sergio Valencia, former PCSO Manager Benigno Aguas and former PCSO releasing officer Gloria Araullo diverted the 73-million CIF between 2004 and 2007.
Former Commission on Audit (COA) Assistant Commissioner Lorna Dimapilis and former COA auditor Nilda Plaras were also named in the complaint, filed in 2016.
The complaint claimed that Arroyo and the other respondents took advantage of their positions to enrich themselves by diverting funds to the CIF.
But Ramirez concluded that there was no reason to believe the funds were misused and, on the contrary, complied with legal requirements in the disbursement of intelligence funds.
Ramirez cited the Supreme Court’s ruling on the dismissed P366-million case in his resolution.
“The high court ruled, among other things, that (1) the Prosecution did not prove the existence to conspiracy among Arroyo, Aguas and Uriarte; (2) no proof of amassing or accumulating, or acquiring ill-gotten wealth of at least P50 million was adduced against Arroyo and Aguas and finally (3) the prosecution failed to prove the predicate act of raiding the public coffers,” it added.
The counsel of the former president, Laurence Arroyo, welcomed the junking of what he termed a “last-minute” complaint.
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