FORMER Solicitor General Frank Chavez on Tuesday filed before the Department of Justice plunder and criminal charges against former President and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga and several of her allies over alleged misuse of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) funds.
Malacanang also on Tuesday said that it was no longer surprised with the complaints filed against Mrs. Arroyo at the Justice department.
In their complaint-affidavit, Chavez and non-government Migrante International accused Mrs. Arroyo, of “purposely and systematically orchestrating diversion and/or misuse of the OWWA funds, financing questionable acquisitions by several Philippine diplomatic posts in the Middle East, the humanitarian assistance to Iraq.”
Besides Mrs. Arroyo, the other charged were former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, former Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd and former OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo.
Chavez charged Mrs. Arroyo and her group with plunder, qualified theft and violation of the Omnibus Election Code and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials.
The Chavez complaint stated that the amount involved in the alleged anomaly was P530.382 million, which was way beyond the P50 million requirement of the law for an act to constitute plunder.
“[Mrs.] Arroyo also transferred the P100 million Livelihood Development Program from OWWA to the National Support Fund under the Office of the President in September 2003. The diversion of this program and its funds gave her the free hand to decide as to what projects she would do and where they would be allotted. This also did not benefit the migrant workers,” it said.
“Clearly, then, respondents are guilty of plunder through the first predicate crime, as the diversion of the said amount had absolutely nothing to do with the intended purposes of the OWWA fund,” the complaint added.
This was the second plunder case filed against Mrs. Arroyo after stepping down from the presidency and losing her immunity from suit.
The first plunder case was filed also at the Justice department by taxpayer Danilo Lihaylihay alleging that Mrs. Arroyo violated the law by selling the lot of the former Iloilo airport to Megaworld Corp. in 2007 for P1 billion.
Chavez personally filed the second complaint against the former president and the Justice department promised that it will help provide witnesses against Mrs. Arroyo.
Witnesses Sandra Cam, Jose Barredo and Melchor Magdamo, who exposed the jueteng scandals during the Arroyo administration, challenged President Benigno Aquino 3rd to make good his promise to stamp out corruption by prosecuting Mrs. Arroyo and her allies.
In her nine-year presidency, Mrs. Arroyo was linked to many alleged anomalies that included the P728-million fertilizer fund scam; the scrapped $330-million national broadband deal with China’s ZTE Corp; and the overpricing of the P1.1-billion Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard.
Malacanang spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that they have “no comment” on the charges filed against Mrs. Arroyo.
“But since she’s no longer president, she no longer has immunity, so I guess that‘s the reason why former Solicitor General Frank Chavez filed a case against her,” Lacierda added during a Palace briefing.
WITH REPORT FROM CRIS G. ODRONIA