MANILA, Philippines - Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Thursday said she is "deeply gratified" that the Ombudsman threw out a plunder case against her over the sale of the Iloilo airport.
"I am deeply gratified and appreciative of the recommendation of the Department of Justice prosecutors and the action of the Ombudsman approving their recommendation to dismiss the plunder case filed by one [Danilo] Lihaylihay," she said in a statement.
"What is lamentable is that this case has been utilized by the DOJ in issuing several watchlist orders against me," she added.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, in a 19-page resolution, said the case filed by "tax whistleblower" Danilo Lihaylihay against Mrs. Arroyo and 5 others has no merit.
"The Resolution dated 20 January 2011 of the Office of the Prosecutor General is hereby approved. The charge of Plunder against respondents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo , Albert G. Romulo, Eduardo R. Ermita, Margarito B. Teves, John Philip P. Sevilla and Andrew L. Tan is hereby dismissed," the Ombudsman's resolution said.
Carpio-Morales, Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro, Preliminary Investigation Administrative Adjudication and Review Bureau (PARB) Director IV Mary Antonette Yalao and Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer 1 Francis Euston Acero signed the 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," the Ombudsman said.
Three elements are required for a plunder case. These are if the offender is a public official; the offender amassed ill-gotten wealth through a series of criminal acts, and the total value of the ill-gotten wealth is at least P50 million.
The Ombudsman said the law does not support Lihaylihay's claim that the acquisition of ill-gotten wealth was completed through a conspiracy between Arroyo, Romulo, Ermita, Teves and Sevilla, and Megaworld Corporation's Tan.
"At the end of the day, there is absolutely nothing on record that supports a finding that a public officer was the ultimate beneficiary of the sale of the Iloilo Airport," it added.