MANILA — The Office of the the Ombudsman has dismissed the last plunder complaint against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in connection with the alleged misuse of P73 million in funds of the state-run Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
The plunder, malversation of public funds and graft complaint against Arroyo and several PCSO officials stemmed from the alleged misuse of the agency's confidential and intelligence Funds from 2004 to 2007.
The Ombudsman dismissed the complaint in a 10-page resolution dated Feb. 13, 2019, copies of which was made public by Arroyo's office on Sunday.
Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales filed the case in 2016, around the same time that the Supreme Court acquitted Arroyo of a separate plunder charge involving PCSO funds from 2008 to 2010.
Following the Supreme Court ruling, there was no evidence that Arroyo pocketed or misappropriated the P73.617 million funds disbursed upon the request of her co-respondents, former PCSO General Manager Rosario Uriarte and former PCSO Chairman Sergio Valencia, said the Ombudsman.
“The High Court ruled, among other things, that (1) the Prosecution did not prove the existence to conspiracy among Arroyo, Aguas and Uriarte.; (2) no proof of amassing or accumulating, or acquiring ill-gotten wealth of at least P50 million was adduced against Arroyo and Aguas and finally (3) the prosecution failed to prove the predicate act of raiding the public coffers,” read the ruling.
It further stated that the Supreme Court had already earlier found that the requests of Uriarte and Valencia for 2008 to 2010 were valid and legal as they complied with all the requirements of Letter of Instructions in the disbursement of intelligence funds.
In the subsequent complaint filed covering 2004 to 2007, the Ombudsman said Uriarte and Valencia’s requests had all the requirements under the said LOI.
“Absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, therefore, respondents, as public officers, enjoy the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties,” the Ombudsman ruled.
Laurence Arroyo, counsel of the former President, welcomed the dismissal of the “pahabol” complaint as it was filed during the acquittal of the former President.
“It takes as much moral courage and intellectual honesty to dismiss a case as it does to file and prosecute one. What has been said of a public prosecutor can be said of the Ombudsman: Its interest in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case but that justice shall be done’,” he said.
The ruling was approved by Ombudsman Samuel Martires and penned by graft investigation officer Lucielo Ramirez Jr.