DOJ subpoenas Arroyo over plunder complaint

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2011 08:57 PM | Updated as of May 27 2011 04:38 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued subpoenas to former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her 3 co-respondents in connection with a plunder complaint filed by former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez for alleged misuse of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) funds.

This formally starts the preliminary investigation on the case to determine whether there is probable cause to file the charges in court.

Arroyo, former executive secretary and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, former Arroyo Health Secretary and current Civil Service Commission (CSC) chair Francisco Duque III, and former OWWA administrator Virgilio Angelo were ordered to appear at the DOJ on June 6, 2011 to file, and personally subscribe to, their respective counter-affidavits in a subpoena order dated May 20, 2011.

"Also, there are pieces of evidence submitted which shall be made available for the examination by you and your counsel at the same office during working hours or any working day before the date set above for you to submit your counter-affidavit," the subpoena read.

Chavez's 23-page complaint filed last April alleged that some P554.8-million in OWWA funds derived from contributions of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and their employers were misused by Arroyo, et al.

Over P530 million of the funds were transferred from the OWWA Medicare Fund to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) in February 2004, the complaint added.

This was allegedly intended to boost Arroyo's presidential campaign.

Aside from plunder, the complaint also accused respondents of malversation and/or illegal use of OWWA funds, graft and corruption, violations of the Omnibus Election Code and Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials, and qualified theft. 

"You are hereby warned that failure on your part to comply with this SUBPOENA shall be considered as waiver to present your defense in this preliminary investigation and the case shall be considered submitted," the subpoena read.

The subpoena was issued by the panel tasked to conduct the preliminary investigation, namely Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Lilian Doris Alejo and Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Elizabeth Intos-Santos.

The Chavez complaint is the second plunder complaint filed at the DOJ after Arroyo stepped down from the presidency.

The first was filed by Danilo Lihaylihay in August 2010 in connection with the sale of the old Iloilo airport for the non-remittance of P72-million in capital gains tax.