MANILA, Philippines - Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is not yet off the hook from possible charges stemming from alleged poll fraud in the 2004 elections, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Thursday.
This, in spite of the Office of the Ombudsman's recent junking of bribery and corruption charges against the detained former chief executive for alleged handing out cash and providing transportation in Mindanao during the 2004 presidential campaign where Arroyo was a candidate.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales dismissed the complaint against Arroyo, her husband, Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, and four others for insufficient evidence.
De Lima said the Department of Justice (DOJ)-Comelec joint poll fraud fact-finding panel has not yet concluded its investigation into alleged vote-rigging in 2004, and if evidence warrants, charges may yet be filed against Mrs. Arroyo who is now under detention for charges filed in court for electoral sabotage in connection with the 2007 midterm polls.
"Wala pang double jeopardy dyan and I don't even know if kung yung mga facts alleged sa complaint... pertain to the same facts na iniimbestigahan ng Senate... and assuming that it pertains to the same alleged acts of election irregularity, wala pa namang double jeopardy dyan," De Lima said.
"It does not preclude the filing of another case if and when there is sufficient evidence to support the case," she added.
De Lima stressed that the DOJ-Comelec panel has yet to come up with its findings and report on alleged poll fraud in 2004.
"Kung ma-receive na ng fact-finding committee yung sa Senate (report) pwede naman maging basehan yan ng continuation ng fact-finding [probe]. Mayroon na rin kaming mangilan ngilang ebidensya sa 2004 elections pero hindi pa pinapa-go," she said.