MANILA, Philippines - As expected, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is now formally facing graft and corruption charges.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan was first to file the charges, a day after Arroyo lost her immunity from lawsuits.
Lawyer Neri Colmenares said the charges, filed before the Department of Justice Wednesday, refer to alleged liabilities for her administration’s botched national broadband network deal with Chinese firm ZTE Corp.
In its petition, the group said “the regime of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ended. But its crimes live on. Unless justice is rendered on Mrs. Arroyo and those who conspired with her in robbing the nation, killing innocent civilians and debasing its institutions, impunity reigns and will continue to reign.”
Besides Arroyo, the group asked the DoJ to check the criminal liabilities of her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo, former Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza, Assistant Transportation Secretary Elmer Soneja, former Socio-economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri, ZTE officials such as Yu Yong and Fan Yan as well as other John Does.
Arroyo is being held liable for supposedly violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or RA 3019.
Among others, Arroyo supposedly “induced” the officials to approve the contract despite the glaring irregularities, the group said.
She is also being held liable for violating the Revised Penal Code and Presidential Decree 1829 for refraining from prosecuting and investigating the alleged irregularities.
The DoJ was also asked to check her omissions, as prescribed in the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees as well as the Government Procurement Act.
Neri said the DoJ, now under Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, would best resolve the case. He said the group has lost faith in the Office of the Ombudsman, where graft and administrative cases are usually filed.
Bayan Party-list Representative Teodoro Casino, Jr. said this will only be a test case. He said other complaints will be filed against Arroyo for her involvement in the Fertilizer scam, the Philhealth cards vote buying spree, the Hello Garci scandal, Venable contract, and human rights violations including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
The case was filed following the announcement of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III creating a Truth Commission that would investigate Arroyo.
The commission will be headed by former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., in tandem with the DoJ.
In his inauguration speech, Aquino said “to those who talk about reconciliation, if they mean that they would like us to simply forget about the wrongs that they have committed in the past, we have this to say: there can be no reconciliation without justice.”
He gave de Lima his “marching orders” to “begin the process of providing true and complete justice for all.” - with a report from Timi Nubla, ABS-CBN News