Cases vs GMA going nowhere - lawyers

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2013 01:48 PM | Updated as of Jan 24 2013 09:48 PM

PNoy losing most of his hair – Topacio

MANILA, Philippines - The cases against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are not going anywhere, her lawyers claim.

In a statement, lawyer Raul Lambino said that the cases filed against Arroyo are politically motivated and are now unraveling.

Lambino recalled that of all the corruption allegations against Arroyo, only one has kept her in detention. Others have been dismissed or filed under lower offenses.

"Several cases that were filed against the former president. Most of these cases were dismissed beginning with the Iloilo airport and several other cases. There are only two cases so far, itong electoral sabotage - which is non-bailable - at itong plunder, which is also non-bailable," he said.

Arroyo was freed on a P1 million bail for the electoral sabotage charge after the court found it wanting for a strong evidence of guilt -- only to be detained again months later for a plunder charge over the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of Arroyo’s husband Mike, lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, twitted the Aquino administration for the status of the PCSO plunder case.

“The former First Gentleman, Atty. Miguel Arroyo, wishes to say that he is ‘happy, very happy’ over the order of the Sandiganbayan First Division requiring the Office of the Ombudsman to produce the original resolution which found lack of probable cause to indict former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the crime of plunder, for which she is presently incarcerated," he said.


Topacio added: "We feel that the preposterous plunder charge was merely a face-saving measure on the part of President Aquino after his minions led by the puppet Comelec Chairman were rebuffed by the court in the equally flimsy electoral sabotage case. Since the President is losing most of his hair, he cannot afford to lose face.”

Topacio also rebuffed allegations that Mike is a flight risk after the prosecution in the NBN-ZTE case opposed his request for permit to travel to Japan and Hong Kong next month.

“The asseveration is simply nonsense. The records will show that thrice the former First Gentleman has travelled abroad during the pendency of serious criminal charges against him; thrice he has returned. His place is with his ailing wife in her time of crisis, a wife whom he has pledged before God to love and support in sickness and in health, for better or for worse. Such vow is sacred and will not be broken by Atty. Arroyo.”
The following is a summary of cases against the camp of the former President provided by her camp:

The first graft case in court against President Arroyo alleged overpricing and bribery in a contract (eventually canceled) for China’s ZTE to build a national broadband network. The Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) dismissed the original case in April 2009, saying that “only surmises and conjectures have been presented to this panel for assessment. To be certain, these presumptions cannot be given any weight.” The OMB re-filed the case in December 2011. It is pending at the Fourth Division of the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court.
The first criminal case filed against Arroyo accused her of conspiring to rig the 2007 senatorial elections. The case is based solely on the testimony of former Maguindanao Provincial Engineer Norie Unas, who allegedly saw and heard Arroyo give then Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. instructions to tamper with the Maguindanao election results.
RESPONSE: The court cannot rely on Unas’s hearsay evidence; the Prosecution did not even present material evidence like tampered election returns, as proof of the cheating being alleged.
STATUS: Recognizing weak hearsay evidence, the court allowed Arroyo to post bail. It ruled that “unsupported by other evidence to corroborate [Unas’] testimony, the same could not be given such weight and probative value that will be sufficient to establish a strong evidence of guilt.” This case is still pending in Branch 112 of the Pasay Regional Trial Court.
ALLEGATION: This plunder case filed against President Arroyo and several senior officials alleged conspiracy to plunder P72 million in capital gains tax allegedly due but not collected in the sale of the old Iloilo Airport land to Megaworld Corporation in October 2007.
STATUS: The five-page complaint was instantly dismissed by the Ombudsman in November 2011. According to the OMB Resolution, a “cursory look at the allegations made by complainant Lihaylihay shows that he did not allege, much less present any evidence, that either respondent Arroyo, Romulo, Ermita, Teves or Sevilla acquired ill-gotten wealth in the manner described under Section 1(d) of the Anti-Plunder Law.”
ALLEGATION: Arroyo and top PCSO officials are charged with plunder for the alleged misuse of the confidential and intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
RESPONSE: The said disbursements were audited and approved by the Commission on Audit. Arroyo signed funding requests required by COA circulars, but she did not order or approve the release of the funds.
The first panel of OMB prosecutors found no probable cause to charge Arroyo with plunder since there was no proof of conversion of the funds being diverted to personal assets or spending of the accused.
Ombudsman Carpio Morales reversed the resolution of the first panel of prosecutors and ordered the filing of a no-bail plunder case soon after Arroyo was granted bail for the electoral sabotage case.
STATUS: Arroyo filed for bail with the Sandiganbayan court and for dismissal of the plunder charge with the Supreme Court, along with other accused, since the elements of plunder have not been established due to the conflicting OMB resolutions.
According to media reports, one co-accused has been detained and offered release and immunity if he would speak against Arroyo.
ALLEGATION: The case alleged plunder in approving the release of P728 million to local officials for the purchase of fertilizer and pesticides, with the illicit proceeds being used for the 2004 presidential election campaign.
RESPONSE: Arroyo herself had the anomalies investigated by the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, which ended its probe when the Ombudsman conducted its own investigation.
Senator Richard Gordon, who headed the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigations on the scam in 2009, said there was no evidence that directly linked Arroyo to the alleged misuse of funds.
STATUS: OMB dismissed the plunder charge.
ALLEGATION: The case alleged the misuse of P550 million from the Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration Fund for the purchase of vehicles in Philippine missions abroad and for the provision of health insurance coverage.
RESPONSE: The fund releases were allowed as part of the OWWA’s contingency fund for the overseas Filipino workers affected during the 2003 war in Iraq and Middle East crisis.
COA reported that the funds were properly liquidated and actually used in repatriating OFWs in Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon and Egypt.
The transfer of the funds was also in line with RA 7875 creating the National Health Insurance Program and EO 195 for compulsory health coverage of OFWs.
STATUS: OMB dismissed the graft and plunder charges and found no misappropriation since the funds reached its intended OFW beneficiaries.