The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) has dismissed the complaint against former President and now Pampanga (2nd District) Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her son, Camarines Sur (2nd District) Rep. Diosdado Ignacio “Dato” Arroyo for plunder and violations of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”, in connection with the Libmanan-Cabusao Dam and Skybridge 1 and 2 projects in Camarines Sur.
In a 28-page investigation report, Morales approved on April 22, 2014 the recommendation of the Field Investigation Office (FIO) to close and terminate the case as the evidence gathered does not warrant the initiation of criminal proceedings against the former president and her son.
The investigation report said that there is no evidence to show that former President Arroyo and her son directly and actively participated in the planning or implementation of the projects.
It cited the funding for the Libmanan-Cabusao Dam and Skybridge 1 and 2 projects did not come from the President’s Social Fund nor Rep. Dato Arroyo’s Priority Development Allocation Fund, but was already included by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) as an infrastructure project in its Project Procurement Management Plan and Annual Procurement Plan for 2008, and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) under the Design and Build Infrastructure Project Scheme in 2009, respectively.
It added there is no evidence that respondents amassed, accumulated or acquired ill-gotten wealth directly or through their subordinates in the NIA and DPWH, considering that both projects were funded through the regular budget of the respective agencies; nor was there a showing that respondents demanded and received the amount of not less than Php 50 million as “SOP” from the projects.
Costing Php 700,777,700, the Libmanan-Cabusao Dam covers the construction of a 10.28-kilometer diversion canal and appurtenant structures that were to service 4,000 hectares, which project was awarded to A.M. Oreta & Co. in May 2009 but was ordered suspended by NIA Administrator Carlos Salazar in December 2009 due to strong opposition from local residents and based on the study of the Institute for Environmental Conservation and Research (INECAR) of the Ateneo de Naga University that reported the probability of inundating the towns downstream which could threaten the biodiversity and livelihood of the people.
Investigation showed that NIA relied on a 176-page Feasibility Study on the extensive research and technical evaluation on the dam’s viability and socio-economic impact, and an Initial Environmental Examination report on the environmental condition, issues and concerns which became the basis for the issuance of an Environmental Compliance Certificate by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Meanwhile, the contract for the Skybridge 1 and 2 project including the road improvement aspect was awarded in the amount of Php 1,164,077,108.54 to the joint venture companies of R.D. Policarpio & Co., Inc. and R.D. Interior Jr., Const., which encountered problems and issues in the implementation thereof that caused delay and additional cost.
The case arose from the complaint filed in March 2013 by Atty. Roberto Gueverra, Renecio Espiritu, Jr., Jose Aaron Pedrosa and Juliano Fernando Guiang.
The complainants alleged that respondents committed plunder “directly or through their subordinates at NIA and DPWH as dummies, by taking material possession and then disposing freely of billions of pesos of taxpayer’s money packaged by respondent Gloria Arroyo as birthday gift to her son [in September 2008], but which in application meant their use of these funds or government assets to promote and/or finance Dato’s electoral bid for the 2nd District of Camarines Sur in the May 2010 Elections,” thereby “giving her son unwarranted benefits by announcing that she had lined-up a total of Php 3 billion worth of projects for Dato’s district, a year and half before the May 2010 elections… in a project which is manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government.”
Morales also approved the FIO’s recommendation to conduct further investigation to inquire into the regularity and proprietary of the acts of government officials responsible in the planning and implementation of the Libmanan-Cabusao Dam and Skybridge 1 and 2 projects. PNA