Ombudsman probing another possible plunder case vs. ex-President Arroyo

MANILA — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Wednesday disclosed that the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) is also investigating another possible plunder case against former President and now Pampanga (2nd District) Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the alleged misuse of the funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

However, Morales said that the case is different from the one dismissed by the SC, and it cannot be ruled deemed as double jeopardy.

Voting 11-4, the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday dismissed for insufficiency of evidence the plunder case against Mrs. Arroyo in connection with the alleged misuse of the Php 366-million intelligence fund of the PCSO.

“It cannot be double jeopardy because it covers a different period,” Morales said.

One of Mrs. Arroyo’s lawyers divulged last June that the Ombudsman was investigating a new plunder complaint against the former President regarding the alleged misuse of PCSO funds from 2004 to 2007.

Aside from the plunder complaint, Mrs. Arroyo is also facing graft cases in connection with the botched USD 329-million National Broadband Network-ZTE Construction Corp. (NBN-ZTE) contract between the Philippine government and China’s ZTE.

Morales noted that the plunder and malversation complaints were under preliminary investigation stage.

“Even assuming we find probable cause, it will depend on the assessment of the Sandiganbayan of whether there is probable cause,” Morales said.

Once the Sandiganbayan receives a copy of the “immediately executory” ruling and release order from the SC, Mrs. Arroyo will be released from the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon where she has been under hospital arrest since 2012 due to her debilitating bone disease. PNA/