SC affirms dismissal of malversation raps vs GMA

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2013 04:42 PM | Updated as of Feb 07 2013 12:42 AM

MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the dismissal of technical malversation charges against former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo for the alleged misuse of over P530 million in Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Medicare Funds and US $ 350,000  from the OWWA Capital Fund.

In a 2-page minute resolution dated January 17, the high court's Third Division denied former Solicitor General Frank Chavez's petition that sought a reversal of the dismissal of the charges by the Office of the Ombudsman, and the reinstatement of plunder charges he originally filed against the former chief executive.

"Unless tainted with grave abuse of discretion, the judgments and orders of the Ombudsman shall not be reversed, modified or otherwise interfered with by the Court," the resolution read.

Chavez charged Arroyo with plunder before the Department of Justice (DOJ) but the department downgraded the charge to technical malversation. Subsequently, the anti-graft office junked the case against Mrs. Arroyo.

The high court agreed with the Ombudsman in: (a) dismissing the complaint against Arroyo, et al.; (2) holding that the transfer of OWWA funds to Philhealth is valid; and (c) the OWWA funds were used legally.

In his 72-page petition for review, Chavez asked the high court to reinstate the original charge of plunder against Rep. Arroyo, her former Executive Secretary, Alberto Romulo, her former PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer and current Chair of the Civil Service Commission, former OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo, former Labor Dept. Sec. Patricia Sto. Tomas, Labor Usec. Manuel Imson, former Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz, former Finance Dept. representative to the OWWA Board of Trustees Mina Figueroa, OWWA Board Management Sector representative Caroline Rogge, OWWA Board Labor Sector representative Victorino Balais, and OWWA Board Women's Sector representative Virginia Pasalo.

Chavez argued that the DOJ and the Ombudsman "committed reversible error in not finding probable cause against respondents" for the crime of plunder.