MANILA, Philippines - Accusations against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo over the alleged misuse of funds of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are merely “propaganda mantra,” a lawyer of Mrs. Arroyo said Wednesday.
This, after the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed the graft case filed against Pampanga Rep. Arroyo over the alleged misuse and transfer of over P540 million of OWWA funds in 2003.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) by former Solicitor General Frank Chavez, who accused Arroyo of using the funds for her presidential campaign in 2004.
Atty. Ferdinand Topacio said, “The line that is always being repeated by the current administration that funds were used for her reelection bid in 2004 is merely propaganda mantra because there is nothing that will show that this was so.”
“In fact, the funds – it was very clear from the documentations -- were released in 2005 and the elections were held in 2004. There can be no denying that. On that point alone, the charge that it was used for her reelection bid must fail,” he added in an ANC interview.
Arroyo’s legal counsel also said that the fund transfer was validated by the DOJ itself.
“So how can the DOJ now under a different leadership claim that the fund transfer was illegal when the same department validated and confirmed the legality of the transfer under the PhilHealth law?”
Topacio also said they were able to prove that the intended beneficiaries on the transfer of funds actually received the money.
He said the board of OWWA was even commended by the Ombudsman for seeing to it that the beneficiaries received what was due them.
“It was very clear. The documents do not lie. Inspite of all sorts of propaganda and accusations, once evidence is in, there can be no denying that there is no probability on the part of the former president,” Topacio said.
He said the former president is certainly happy that “justice has once again triumphed” but they acknowledge the fact that they still have to face other cases filed against Arroyo.
However, the camp of Arroyo is still confident that she will eventually be vindicated.
The Arroyo camp has also filed a petition before the Supreme Court Wednesday to annul the Sandiganbayan’s finding of probable cause against her for the plunder involving Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.
When asked why they just filed their pleading now, Topacio said the work was not easy.
“It is not easy. For one, the finding by the Sandiganbayan -- we must admit -- is impressed with a heavy presumption of regularity, it being a specialized court organized precisely to try cases against government officials involving graft, corruption and plunder. It is not really an easy job especially considering that you're up against an entire machinery of government intent on persecuting the Arroyos,” he said.