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MANILA, Philippines – The resolution of the plunder case against former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the alleged misuse of P366-million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds could be out this month, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said.
“It’s pending, the resolution should be out anytime now. . . . before the end of the month, hopefully,” Carpio-Morales said in an interview at the House of Representatives Tuesday following the approval in plenary of her office’s budget.
Asked if she was confident about having a strong case against Arroyo, she said, “I am confident, I am not going to file a case just for the heck of filing.”
“When I file a case, I believe that there’s probable cause. Now, I can no longer control the minds of these justices, and of course not to mention the fact that we go by the evidence. If the evidence is strong then that’s it; if the justices do not find the evidence strong, so be it,” she added.
The case accused Arroyo, now representative of Pampanga’s second congressional district, of plunder along with nine others. Plunder is a non-bailable offense.
Arroyo also faces a graft case before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court over the NBN-ZTE deal, and an electoral sabotage case at the Pasay City Regional Trial Court, for which she is out on bail.
According to the Ombudsman, from January 2008 to June 2010, Arroyo and her co-accused diverted funds from the PCSO’s operations fund to the Confidential/ Intelligence Funds (CIF), which could be accessed with few restrictions.
The Review Joint Resolution of the Ombudsman stated that the repeated identically-worded one-page requests for additional CIF “did not have a specific plan, project, program or undertaking of intelligence activity, and that moreover, the requests made for 2008 and 2010 even preceded the approval of PCSO’s corporate operating budget.”
It also pointed out “certain irregularities and deficiencies in the facilitation of the cash advances, such as disbursement vouchers with no supporting documents, false certifications or credit advices that previous advances were liquidated, lack of authorization to approve CIF disbursements for 2008, non-compliance with the form prescribed for liquidation certifications, and lack of supporting documents/receipts to prove that the amounts were used allegedly to fund relief operations or pay blood money to the victims of convicted OFWs.”
The alleged acts constituting the charges of malversation and violations of RA 3019 were absorbed or included in the crime of plunder.
The case stemmed from two separate complaints – one complaint dated July 25, 2011 filed by Jaime Regalario, Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and Danilo Lim, for plunder, malversation and violation of Republic Act 3019; and another complaint dated November 29, 2011 by the PCSO itself represented by Eduardo Araullo, for plunder and violation of RA 3019 – for the respondents’ acts of allegedly amassing millions of pesos by diverting funds sourced from the PCSO’s CIF during the latter years of the Arroyo administration.