GMA asks SC to annul finding of probable cause

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2012 01:32 PM | Updated as of Oct 24 2012 09:32 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The camp of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo filed with the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday an 81-page petition urging the high court to reverse the finding of probable cause against her by the Sandiganbayan for the crime of plunder.

Mrs. Arroyo assailed the two resolutions issued by the Sandiganbayan last Oct. 3 and Oct. 4 which found probable cause against her and denied her motion for reconsideration, respectively, in the plunder case involving over P366-million in intelligence and confidential Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.

Mrs. Arroyo claimed that the anti-graft court gravely abused its discretion and failed to perform its duty of evaluating all evidence on record in determining the existence of probable cause against her. She said the court merely adopted the findings of the Ombudsman against her instead of painstakingly examining the evidence contained in the complaint.

She also argued that the finding of probable cause was based on mere suspicions and conjectures. She stressed that her participation in the allocation of the subject funds was limited to merely approving the same.

She also pointed out that the complainants did not have personal knowledge of the allegations stated in the complaint, a requirement of the Rules of Court.

She stressed that the essential elements of plunder were not present in her case, insisting that she did not accumulate or acquire wealth, amass at least P50 million, did not commit overt or criminal acts through means described by law, did not misuse funds, and did not take advantage of official position.  

She also cited the dismissal of the complaint against her former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, who was a co-respondent in the complaint. She said the dismissal of the charge against Ermita should apply with equal force on her. 

Mrs. Arroyo also said the case smacked of political harassment.

"In the instant case, the record shows extant facts and circumstances showing clear undertones of political harassment which the respondents (Sandiganbayan First Division, Office of the Ombudsman) failed to consider in determining whether probable cause truly exists against petitioner GMA for the crime of plunder," the petition read.

Her camp sought the immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction to halt the proceedings before the anti-graft court.