Ombudsman upholds plunder raps vs Arroyo, others | Inquirer News
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Ombudsman upholds plunder raps vs Arroyo, others

By: - Reporter / @cynchdbINQ
/ 09:54 PM October 01, 2012

Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

MANILA, Philippines–The Office of the Ombudsman on Monday upheld the plunder information it had filed against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and eight former officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and the Commission on Audit for the alleged misuse of P366 million from the PCSO coffers.

The Ombudsman affirmed the Review Joint Resolution dated July 20, which found probable cause to indict the group, and dismissed the motions for reconsideration filed by the counsels of Arroyo and her seven coaccused in the nonbailable crime.

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Charged with Arroyo were former PCSO officials Chair Sergio Valencia, General Manager and Vice Chair Rosario Uriarte, and Board Directors Manuel Morato, Jose Taruc, Raymundo Roquero and Ma. Fatima Valdez.  Also charged were former COA Chair Reynaldo Villar and Nilda Paras, head of the intelligence/confidential fund of the COA Anti-Fraud Unit.

Arroyo lead counsel Anacleto Diaz had sought to stop the plunder case that was already in its pre-trial stage by arguing that it was premature for public prosecutors to ask for a warrant of arrest for the accused, who were entitled to file their respective motions for reconsideration within five days before the Ombudsman.

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But the Ombudsman said a full-blown trial must proceed and that “… respondents-movants’ claims of good faith and regularity in the performance of their duties are defenses best raised during the trial proper.”

The joint order was signed by Special Prosecutor Diosdado Calonge and Assistant Special Prosecutors Zinnia Niduaza, Honorio Ebora Jr. and Gidget Rose Duque.  It said the Ombudsman was convinced that the respondents had conspired to perform various acts geared toward the same aim—to surreptitiously divert public funds sourced from the PCSO’s operating budget for personal gain.

The order dismissed the respondents’ claim that “there (was) no plunder because the complainants were unable to show that (respondents) personally benefitted from the disbursements drawn from the PCSO’s original and additional CIF (confidential and intelligence funds).”

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