THE Supreme Court has junked criminal raps against all co-accused of former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in connection with the supposed misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.
In a 14-page en banc resolution, the high court dismissed all petitions as a result of the “supervening event” of the acquittal of the former PCSO board of directors before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court and the granting of demurrers to evidence sought by Arroyo and PCSO official Benigno Aguas.
The court said there was no case or controversy.
“Any discussion on the probable cause … will be a purely theoretical exercise that will serve no practical judicial value,” the en banc resolution stated.
The 15-man high tribunal anchored its ruling on the April 6, 2015 resolution of the Sandiganbayan, in which charges of plunder against former PCSO board members Manuel Morato, Raymundo Roquero and Jose Taruc were dismissed as there was no proof that they pocketed PCSO funds.
As to former Commission on Audit chairman Reynaldo Villar and co-accused Nilda Plaras, the Sandiganbayan found that they were “not tainted with any criminal design.”
The accused in the PCSO case ran to the high tribunal to stop the Sandiganbayan from proceeding with their trial, and to seek the reversal of the finding of the Office of the Ombudsman of probable cause against them for the crime of plunder.
The Supreme Court argued that with the granting of demurrers to evidence and the acquittal of Arroyo’s co-accused, criminal proceedings could no longer be pursued.
“With the grant of demurrers to evidence — and the acquittals ensuing from it — as well as this Court’s pronouncements negating conspiracy and the commission of plunder, the proceedings against [the PCSO officials]are terminated. There is no longer any case relating to [their]indictment and arrest. There are no longer any proceedings to restrain or enjoin,” the resolution stated.
In July, Arroyo was acquitted by the court en banc of the crime of plunder in connection with the allegedly embezzlement of P366 million in intelligence funds of the PCSO from 2008 to 2010.
With a vote of 11 against 4, the criminal charges against Arroyo were dismissed.
Arroyo no longer presented evidence before the Sandiganbayan on the belief that the prosecution, headed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, had insufficient evidence.