Ombudsman disagrees, says evidence vs Arroyo strong

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 20 2016 03:27 PM

Ombudsman disagrees, says evidence vs Arroyo strong 1
Ombusdman Conchita Carpio Morales and former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. File/Composite

MANILA – Ombusdman Conchita Carpio Morales on Wednesday said she disagrees with the ruling of the Supreme Court acquitting former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of plunder supposedly for lack of evidence.

The high court on Tuesday acquitted Arroyo of plunder, granting the former president's plea to declare the pieces of evidence against her by the prosecution panel insufficient.

''If the Supreme Court indeed believes the evidence of prosecution is insufficient, we believe otherwise,'' Morales said in a press conference.

Morales insists the pieces of evidence were able to establish that Arroyo and PCSO officials conspired to pillage P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) intelligence funds from 2008 to 2010.

''We were able to present strong evidence consisting of 600-plus pieces of evidence… and testimonies of so many witness reflected in 43 stenographic transcripts,'' she said.

''To us, these are exhaustive records which reflect that the prosecution was able to prove without reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused."

One of the glaring findings of the Office of the Ombusdman was that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and National Bureau of Investigation, the supposed beneficiaries of a portion of the intelligence funds, denied receiving anything.

Morales said Arroyo and former PCSO general Rosario Uriarte also failed to account for the P244.5 million in intelligence funds. She said one of the co-accused in the plunder case, former PCSO Budget Officer Benito Aguas, testified that a significant portion of this amount went to the Office of the President.

''In our opposition or comment to the petition to the SC, we emphasized that P244 million went back to Malacañang, and P140 plus million of that were given to Office of the President in January 2010 up to June 2010 which was parenthetically, an election period,'' she said.

Morales lamented that the SC no longer called the prosecution panel for an oral argument so it could defend its case against Arroyo. She said it was actually Arroyo's camp which sought for an oral argument before the high court when the former president filed her plea for a demurrer to evidence.

Morales said her office has yet to receive a copy of the SC ruling, but she said prosecutors would file a motion for reconsideration if warranted.

''It's just natural that they're disappointed, disheartened, but they know they should move on. This is not the end of the line. We have other options,'' Morales said of the prosecutors.

"We had expected that after the prosecution was able to prove, according to us, the guilt, the burden of evidence should have shifted to her and she should have presented evidence to controvert our evidence. Unfortunately the SC thought our evidence was insufficient."