CITING lack of evidence, the Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the last plunder complaint belatedly filed against former President and Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and several officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) over the use of the Confidential and Intelligence Fund (CIF).
In a ten-page Resolution penned by Lucielo Ramirez Jr., Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer III, and approved by Ombudsman Samuel Martires dated 13 February 2019 but released only recently, the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed the complaint for Plunder, Malversation of Public Funds and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against Arroyo and her co-respondents over the alleged misuse of P73 million in CIIF from 2004 to 2007 when Arroyo was president.
The complaint was the case belatedly filed in 2016 by the Field Investigation Office (FIO) under then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales about the same time the Supreme Court acquitted the former President of the plunder charge involving the PCSO CIFs for the period 2008 to 2010.
The Ombudsman said following the SC ruling which dismissed a similar plunder complaint against Arroyo, there was no evidence that she and her co-respondents, Rosario Uriarte, former PCSO General Manager, Sergio Valencia (former PCSO Chairman), Benigno Aguas, former PCSO Manager, Gloria Araullo, PCSO Releasing Officer, Lorna Dimapilis, former Commission on Audit (COA) Assistant Commissioner, and Nilda Plaras, former COA Auditor, pocketed or misappropriated the P73.617 million CIF disbursed upon the request of Uriarte and Valencia.
“The question involving the use of the PCSO’s CIF is not novel. In a similar case involving the use of the PCSO’s CIF for CYs 2008 to 2010, the Supreme Court dismissed the case against Arroyo and Aguas. The High Court ruled, among other things, that (1) the Prosecution did not prove the existence of conspiracy among Arroyo, Aguas and Uriarte.; (2) no proof of amassing or accumulating, or acquiring ill-gotten wealth of at least P50 million was adduced against Arroyo and Aguas and finally (3) the prosecution failed to prove the predicate act of raiding the public coffers,” the Ombudsman ruled.
It further stated that the Supreme Court had already earlier found that the requests of Uriarte and Valencia for the period 2008 to 2010 were valid and legal as they complied with all the requirements of Letter of Instructions (LOI) No. 1282 in the disbursement of intelligence funds. In the subsequent complaint filed covering the years 2004 to 2007, the Ombudsman said Uriarte and Valencia’s requests had all the requirements under the LOI.
The Ombudsman also ruled that there was no evidence submitted that showed the CIFs were misappropriated or misused because the evidence showed that the funds were properly disbursed and duly liquidated.
“(T)he records consisting of Disbursement Vouchers, Liquidation Certifications, and Liquidation Reports are insufficient to establish that the CIFs were diverted or otherwise misapppropriated by Uriarte and Valencia. The Credit Advices subsequently issued by Dimapilis acknowledge Uriarte and Valencia’s liquidation of the CIFs, thus clothing their actions with regularity…..Absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, therefore, respondents, as public officers, enjoy the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties,” the Ombudsman declared.
Atty. Laurence Arroyo, counsel of the former President, welcomed the dismissal of the “pahabol” complaint as it was filed during the acquittal of the former president.