Topacio: Graft raps vs Arroyo over P38-B Malampaya Fund won’t prosper
MANILA, Philippines — The criminal complaints filed against former president and now House Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over the disbursement of the P39 billion Malampaya Fund will be proven false.
This is the statement of her lawyer, Attorney Ferdinand Topacio, in response to the cases filed against his client at the Ombudsman.
Two groups filed 96 counts of graft and 96 counts of malversation against Arroyo, as the disbursement of P38 billion worth of Malampaya funds for different purposes supposedly started during her presidency.
“We have not yet received any official copy of the complaint or complaints, so we cannot make any specific comments as of this time,” Topacio said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Suffice it to state that based on newspaper reports, the complainant admits that the funds concerned were used for public purposes,” he, nevertheless, noted.
“Therefore, in accordance with settled legal principles, President Arroyo has done no wrongdoing during her term, and we are confident that these charges will be proven false, in the same manner that other accusations made before them have been shown to be baseless,” he concluded.
The charges were filed on September 28 by consumer groups National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms Inc. (Nasecore) and Boses ng Konsyumer Alliance Incorporated (BKAI).
According to the 24-page complaint, Presidential Decree Number 910, which created the Energy Development Board in 1976, was not circumvented until Arroyo was sworn into office.
“From 1976 to early 2000, no President dared to circumvent the purpose for which this law was enacted. At least, not until respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came into power,” said the complainants Petronilo Ilagan of Nasecore and Rogelio Reyes of BKAI.
They said Arroyo had “willfully and unlawfully disregarded” the law when the funds were disbursed for other purposes like agriculture, irrigation, calamity rehabilitation, relocation, housing, infrastructure, transportation, national security and other expenditures.
The complainants stressed the Presidential Decree’s goal was to use funds sourced from such projects, like the Malampaya fund, only for purposes relating to energy resilience.