Ex-President Arroyo gives DoJ plunder inquiry a miss, again
MANILA, Philippines—Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo again was a no-show today at the Department of Justice’s inquiry on the plunder case filed against her by former Solicitor-General Francisco Chavez.
Chavez filed the case in connection with a questionable diversion of over P500 million funds supposedly earmarked for the medical benefits of overseas Filipino workers.
Arroyo, together with former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) and OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo, were charged before the DoJ by Chavez last April with the following : a complaint for plunder, qualified theft, violation of the Omnibus Election Code, and Republic Acts 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) and 3019, or the Anti-Graft Law.
Chavez said Mrs. Arroyo approved the diversion of some P533,082,446 OWWA Medicare Fund to the PHIC. Based on the draft Executive Order which was attached by Chavez to the complaint, the purpose of the diversion of funds was to have “significant bearing in the 2004 elections” where Mrs. Arroyo ran for President.
Mrs. Arroyo was required to submit a counter-affidavit, her response to the allegations raised by Chavez in his complaint.
Arroyo’s lawyer, Benjamin Santos told the Department of Justice (DoJ) investigating panel that Mrs. Arroyo, now a Pampanga lawmaker had no intention to delay the proceedings.
The DoJ is conducting a preliminary investigation to determine if there is sufficient ground to file the case in court, and hold the respondents on trial.
But Santos said the former president had other important matters to attend to. Arroyo is reportedly out of the country. He said once the former president returns, “we will have her sign the affidavit before the panel or its representative.”
Arroyo was also absent during the June 23 preliminary investigation.
Patricia Sto. Tomas, former Labor Secretary and former OWWA Board chairperson Rosalinda Baldoz, meanwhile, submitted their counter affidavits.
Sto Tomas personally appeared and submitted her affidavit before panel chair Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva.
Sto. Tomas said the DoJ was wasting its time and money conducting the preliminary investigation.
Baldoz, meanwhile submitted her counter-affidavit last Friday while Romulo subscribed and affirmed his counter-affidavit before a prosecutor in Pasig. It was likewise submitted to the panel.
The next preliminary investigation is scheduled on July 22.
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