• No evidence Arroyo pocketed money – SC

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    THE DECISION of an overwhelming majority of Supreme Court (SC) justices that acquitted former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of plunder insisted that she is innocent and there is no evidence that she pocketed money from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

    In the 48-page decision penned by Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, the SC ruled that Arroyo could not be convicted as she did not commit the act of raiding the national coffers, a predicate to the crime of plunder.

    Moreover, the Sandiganbayan ignored the lack of evidence to establish that Arroyo had engaged in a conspiracy with PCSO officials to amass ill-gotten wealth of at least P50 million, the minimum amount required to establish plunder.

    On Tuesday, with a vote of 11 against 4, the criminal charges against Arroyo were thrown out by the high court via a “demurrer to evidence” that in effect found the prosecution’s case to be weak.

    The full text of the decision was released on Thursday.

    The high court said the Sandiganbayan, which denied Arroyo’s demurrer last year, abused its discretion and exceeded its jurisdiction.

    “[The] Sandiganbayan completely ignored the failure of the information to sufficiently charge conspiracy to commit plunder against the petitioners,” the majority decision said.

    Arroyo was accused by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2012 of allegedly embezzling P366 million in PCSO confidential and intelligence funds from 2008 to 2010.

    Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales failed to prove where the money went and that Arroyo and her co-accused, former PCSO budget and accounts officer Benigno Aguas, benefited from it.

    Besides Arroyo and Aguas, also charged with plunder before the Sandiganbayan were PCSO General Manager and Vice Chairman Rosario Uriarte; directors Manuel Morato, Jose Taruc, Raymundo Roquero and Ma. Fatima Valdes; Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Reynaldo Villar; and former COA intelligence fund fraud audit head Nilda Plaras.

    Not the mastermind
    The Ombudsman also failed to prove that Arroyo masterminded acts constituting plunder, the ruling said.

    What the Ombudsman sought to show was an implied conspiracy to commit plunder among all of the accused on the basis of their collective actions prior to, during and after the implied agreement, it said.

    Moreover, making marginal notes as Arroyo did to PCSO officials involving the release of intelligence funds is common practice and cannot be construed as constituting plunder.

    The SC also ruled that the Sandiganbayan was incorrect when it held that to prove the predicate act of raids of the public treasury, “the prosecution need not establish that the public officer had benefited from such act; and that what was necessary was proving that the public officer had raided the public coffers.”

    Not only did the Ombudsman fail to show where the money went but, more importantly, Arroyo and Aguas had personally benefited from the same. Hence, the Ombudsman “did not prove the predicate act of raids on the public treasury beyond reasonable doubt.”

    ‘Arroyo knew’
    Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, who authored the dissenting opinion, argued that Arroyo was “highly intelligent” to know how to steal public funds.

    “Having had an extraordinary term of nine (9) years as President of the Philippines, she had the experience to make her wise to many, if not all, of the schemes perpetrated within the government bureaucracy that allowed the pilferage of public coffers especially if these were repeated acts in ever-increasing amounts reaching millions of pesos. As President, it was her duty to stop – not abet or participate-in such schemes,” wrote Leonen.

    Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno, in her separate dissenting opinion, blasted her colleagues for rewriting the law and introducing two additional elements to the crime of plunder, the need for a main plunderer and personal benefit.

    “Nearly P366 million of the People’s money is missing. Direct documentary evidence whereby petitioner Aguas states that a large part of this, or P244.5 million to be exact, was diverted to the Office of the President under petitioner Arroyo, was considered sufficient by the Sandiganbayan to require both petitioners herein to proceed with the presentation of their defense evidence,” Sereno wrote.

    “This cogent conclusion by the constitutionally-mandated court” (Sandiganbayan) “that has tried the prosecution’s evidence on plunder cannot be overridden willy-nilly by this Court,” she added.

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    13 Comments

    1. If that is the case,, no proof that she benefited,, then plunder cases against Pnoy,Abad,Estrada,Enrile etc will also not prosper. Baka Binay pde kc buy sila mansion sa Batangas.

    2. She is a victim of Pinoy Panot anger….Now free at last….No evidence……Why De Lima made warrant in no case to answer….More to come…

    3. In as much as the SC has shown that Rules of Court on objective (real) evidence and best evidence rules are negated by the SC need to be revised.

      The appearance the word “OK” and signature of GMA is not enough and co-mingling of funds.in the office of the president is not enough.

      Nothing in evidentiary Rules of Court that the transferee must have benefited

    4. In as much as the SC has shown that Rules of Court on objective (real) evidence and best evidence rules are negated by the SC need to be revised.

      The appearance the word “OK” and signature of GMA is not enough and co-mingling of funds.in the office of the president is not enough.

      Nothing in evidenciary Rules of Court that the transferee must have benefited

    5. sereno tulog ka pa hindi na si noynoy ang presidente tama na ang pagiging sipsip

    6. What can former PCSO Chair Margie Juico and Atty. Tolentino say about the decision of SC when her archenemy Manuel Morato & company cases’ were all dismissed and both ladies were the star witnesses of the Ombudsman?

    7. Juan T. Delacruz on

      It was not proven beyond reasonable doubt that Arroyo did not personally benefited the P366 Million that was taken out from PCSO? She ordered for the release of the money and she signed for it. The only problem was that she cannot account for it. This is not sufficient evidence? Well, most of the stolen money was deposited in Mickey’s account, and little Mickey cannot justify the excess money in his bank account. This type of ruling by the majority of bozos in the Supreme Court is an invitation to whoever head of a government agency that they can withdraw their agency’s budget and can spend it anyway they wish without accountability.
      Responsibility and accountability are also important ingredients of ethics, and it should be reminded very often to civil servants, working for the government.

      Lito Atienza did some miracle, when he was DENR Secretary under Arroyo Administration. He spent the DENR budget by going to Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.
      to watch the fight of Manny Pacquiao. Chavit Singson was there also, spending his RA 7171 money, intended for the tobacco farmers in Ilocos Sur.

      With these type of Filipino mentality, we will not progress, as a nation, as fast as we would like to be. Favoritism, equality, greed, selfishness, easy money, magnanakaw sa gobyerno, on and on will slow down or impede the speed of progress that we are trying to achieve. Is this our uniqueness as Filipinos? As a Filipino myself, I know that we are unique in so many ways and we are always proud about it.

      • anno nimos-tonnie on

        juan de la cruz: yang mentalidad mo mismo na inggetero at nagmamalinis ang dahilan ng mga kahayupan sa ating lipunan. . . kung makapagsalita ka. . .kuuuu pakalinis mo. . .ikaw na ang matuwid!

      • Bakit di mo iapela ang decision at sabihin sa SC na ang pera ay nakita mo sa bank account ni Mikey? Bilisan mo habang mainit ang issue. Bobo ba o tanga si carpio morales at niya nakita ang nakita mo?

    8. Nasaan ang P366M? Sino ang nagbulsa nito? Kaawa-awang Pilipinas…nanakawan ng napakalaking pera!

    9. What kind of justices do we have? They absolve Gloria of wrong doing – just like that!

      We really have a very bad justice system – very different between the Elite and powerful and the poor masses!

      DEFINITELY A CHANGE IN THE FORM OF GOVERNMENT IS NECESSARY THAT WILL ELIMINATE SUCH CORRUPT PRACTICES! WHAT TYPE? OGK!