Arroyo files demurrer to evidence in plunder case

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 29 2014 04:50 PM | Updated as of Aug 30 2014 12:50 AM

MANILA - Former President Gloria Arroyo has filed a demurrer to evidence, which could result in an acquittal in her plunder case before the Sandiganbayan over the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.

Her lawyer, Laurence Arroyo, said the demurrer was filed on August 27.

"The prosecution has ten days or until September 6 to file its opposition. A demurrer is a motion to dismiss on the ground that the prosecution failed to meet the burden of proving its case beyond reasonable doubt. The granting of the demurrer is equivalent to an acquittal. If it is denied, we will be given an opportunity to present evidence," he said.

Mrs. Arroyo stands accused of misusing some half a billion pesos in PCSO intelligence funds during her presidency. Most of her co-accused are out on bail.

Arroyo, the incumbent Pampanga congresswoman, is detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center as she is suffering from complications from a cervical spine surgery in 2011.

In the demurrer, the Arroyo camp maintained that: "The prosecution failed to present any evidence against President Arroyo during the trial on the merits."

"The only evidence supposedly linking Arroyo to the crime of plunder are the requests for the confidential and intelligence funds which were presented during the bail hearings almost 2 years ago. Clearly the prosecution has managed to press its case only as far as the standard of strong evidence but no further. The evidence as it stands, falls short of the higher standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt."

The defense pointed out that the prosecution presented less than half of the witnesses it said it would, and terminated its presentation without presenting witnesses from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Budget and Management.

The defense also held that the prosecution failed to prove one core element of plunder: amassing, accumulation or acquisition of ill-gotten wealth. It also argued there is no proof Arroyo conspired with any of her co-accused.

Arroyo initialed and wrote "ok" in the requests by the PCSO to make some charges to the PCSO intelligence funds.

The defense said: "A President's approval that has the effect of facilitating the release is neither evidence of plunder nor a conspiracy to commit plunder."

It also argued that the fact that one justice out of three, and two out of five, did not find the evidence against Arroyo to be strong points to reasonable doubt.

The case will be submitted for resolution once the prosecution complies.