Ombudsman junks criminal raps vs. ex-President Arroyo, 6 others

June 6, 2012 11:15 pm 

By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

MANILA, June 6 – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has dismissed the criminal charges against former President and now Pampanga (2nd District) Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and six others for insufficiency of evidence in connection with the May 2004 elections.

The respondents, allegedly in conspiracy, committed bribery under Articles 210 and 211 of the Revised Penal Code and violated Section 3 (a) and (e) of Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act," during the May 2004 elections in Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City.

The case arose from the complaint filed in August 2011 by Pacasirang Batidor, Ahmare Balt Lucman, Hadji Rashid Limbona and Hadji Abdullah D. Dalidig against Rep. Arroyo, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, former Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) director general and erstwhile Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) general manager Alfonso Cusi, PPA manager Efren Bollozos, former Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Agnes Devanadera, former Shariah Circuit Court Judge Nagamura Moner and former First Gentleman Atty. Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo.

The complaint alleged that among other things, the respondents during the 2004 May elections in the identified Mindanao areas, provided transportation through the grant of 12 multi-cab vehicles and the use of a helicopter, and distributed envelopes containing money to unidentified election officers, in perpetuation of the alleged electoral fraud.

In the 43-page resolution approved on May 25, 2012, the Ombudsman found the evidence insufficient since "the complaint contains bare allegations and pieces of evidence that are unsubscribed, unauthenticated and recanted affidavits or statements" which cannot engender a well-founded belief that the crimes have been committed and that the accused are probably guilty thereof and should stand trial.

On the allegation of bribery, the resolution said that "in bribery, it is essential that the recipient of the bribe is a public officer. Hence before a prosecutor can declare that there is probable cause for said felony, there should be proof or showing that the recipient is indeed a public officer. In the present case, nothing of that sort appears. In fact, as already intimated, the supposed recipients of the bribe were not named or sufficiently identified."

The resolution said that "for conspiracy to exist, two or more persons must come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it."

It explained that the same degree of proof required for establishing the crime is likewise required to support a finding of conspiracy, hence, conspiracy must never be presumed. (PNA)

RMA/PTR

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