By: Elena Grace Flores
Conchita Carpi Morales’ office of the Ombudsman filed new motion for reconsideration urging the Supreme Court or SC to reverse its ruling dismissing the plunder case against former President who is currently Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. She accused SC for allegedly committing “grave errors” after dismissing the case previously. Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office or PCSO’s budget and accounts manager Benigno Aguas case was also dismissed together with Arroyo.
The case was in relation to the P366-million worth of PCSO’s confidential intelligence fund (CIF) from 2008 to 2010 during that Mrs. Arroyo happen to sign as per the job of the president.
The Ombudsman speculated the Supreme Court’s incompetence in verifying evidences when she cited the following:
– irregularities in the confidential intelligence fund (CIF) disbursement process [and] questionable practice of co-mingling of funds
– Aguas’ reports to the Commission on Audit (COA), in which the former PCSO official supposedly admitted that the bulk of the P365,997,915.00 withdrawn from the PCSO’s CIF were diverted to the Office of the President
This judgement is definitely a matter of the Ombudsman’s words against Serenos’ of the Supreme Court.
“The concept of actual personal gain, benefit or enrichment to the offender is immaterial as the important consideration in offenses involving the unlawful taking of property, as in plunder, is the intent to gain,” the Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman maintained that Arroyo’s approval of the release of the CIF was not just a “ministerial act” as the SC said in its decision, but was “willful and deliberate”.
Arroyo and Aguas, through their respective petition for certiorari, elevated the case before the SC after the Sandiganbayan First Division denied their petition for bail and their demurrer to evidence.
A demurrer to evidence seeks the dismissal of the case halfway through the trial the ground of the supposed weak evidence of the prosecution.
In its MR, the Ombudsman also argued that under Rule 119 Section 23 of the Rules of Court, “an order denying the demurrer to evidence shall not be reviewable by appeal or by certiorari before [the case’s] judgment”.
“Jurisprudence holds that if the accused’s demurrer to evidence is denied, his or her remedy is…to continue with the case in due course and when an unfavorable verdict is handed down, to take an appeal in the manner of motion for reconsideration,” the Ombudsman said.
Lastly, the Ombudsman said “even assuming that elements of plunder was not proven beyond reasonable doubt”, the case should not have been dismissed outright as “the accused who participated in the misuse of the PCSO’s CIF may be convicted of Malversation, which is a predicate act of and included in Plunder [case]”.
“The evidence presented by the People shows beyond reasonable doubt that Arroyo, Aguas and their co-accused (Uriarte) in (crime number) SB-12-CRM-0174 are guilty of malversation,” the Ombudsman claimed.
“In view thereof, the People respectfully submit that it is premature to dismiss the case and set herein petitioners free. The assailed Resolutions [of the Sandiganbayan First Division] denying their demurrer to evidence, with their consequent effects, should be reinstated,” the Ombudsman pleaded.
Arroyo and Aguas were set free on July 21 or two days after the SC voted on the case.