More Gloria Macapagal Arroyo execs charged with plunder
Former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez on Monday included Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and seven other ex-officials of the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (Owwa) in the plunder case he had filed against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In his amended complaint with the Department of Justice (DoJ), Chavez said Baldoz and the other labor officials were remiss in their duty to protect the funds sourced from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Chavez claimed the officials illegally diverted some P550 million in Owwa funds to finance PhilHealth’s distribution of health cards. The program was purportedly designed to boost Arroyo’s presidential candidacy in 2004.
Speaking with reporters, Chavez said Owwa funds were “private, special trust funds” which should not “co-mingle” with public funds from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
“There is nothing in the Constitution or any statute that authorizes even the President or the board of trustees of Owwa to transfer this money belonging to the OFWs to Philhealth,” he said.
Along with Baldoz, also charged were former Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas, Manuel Imson, Mina Figueroa, Caroline Rogge, Victorino Balais, Gregorio Oca and Virginia Pasalo, who then comprised the Owwa board of trustees.
Baldoz was cited in her capacity as then administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
Baldoz and her coaccused were also charged with qualified theft, malversation of funds, graft and corruption, and violation of the Omnibus Election Code and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials.
“By schemingly facilitating the diversion of the Owwa funds for activities alien to its avowed purpose of directly and exclusively benefitting OFWs…respondents have fallen far short of the degree of fidelity to the trust reposed in them,” Chavez said in his 26-page updated complaint.
The former solicitor general had earlier filed a similar plunder complaint against Arroyo, former Foreign and Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo, then PhilHealth president Francisco Duque III and former Owwa Administrator Virgilio Angelo.
He said three former mid-level Malacañang officials furnished him the documents that allegedly showed how the accused manipulated the transfer of the Owwa funds.
Accompanied by two associates, Chavez filed his modified complaint during the first preliminary investigation of the case.
Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative, and her coaccused were no-shows at the hearing called by a DoJ panel of prosecutors.
Benjamin Santos, Arroyo’s counsel, said the former president did not attend the proceedings since she had yet to complete her counter-affidavit.
According to Santos, they have until June 11 to file their answer to Chavez’s complaint.
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