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Palace unfazed by dismissal of Arroyo charges

Presidential palace says dismissed charges were filed by third parties and not by government

Gloria Arroyo
Image Credit: AFP
Former Philippine president Gloria Arroyo.
Gulf News

Manila: The presidential palace said it is unfazed by the recent dismissal of court cases filed against former President Gloria Arroyo as it pointed out that the dismissed charges were filed by third parties and not necessarily the government.

“These are cases filed by people who are third parties. They may have not had the case build-up, the proper investigation. Some of the cases are actually quite weak when they filed by the other parties,” said palace Strategic Communications Secretary Ramon Carandang said.

Earlier, news came out over a January 17, 2013 decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the dismissal of a case for technical malversation filed against Arroyo in connection with the transfer of a 530,382,445 peso (Dh47,932,242) fund between the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s (OWWA) Medicare to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

The transfer involved two government agencies charged, among others, with overseeing the welfare of Filipinos abroad and the charges were filed by former solicitor general Frank Chavez as well as several other officials including Arroyo.

In its decision affirming a ruling by the Office of the Ombudsman, the Supreme Court Third Division the upheld the Ombudsman’s dismissal of the criminal charges.

“Unless tainted with grave abuse of discretion, the judgements and orders of the Ombudsman shall not be reversed, modified, or otherwise interfered with by the court,” said the tribunal decision.

Carandang said the dismissal of the case had been expected as it does not have a firm legal leg to stand on.

“What we should be looking out for are cases that are built up and developed by the government itself. And I can assure you that there are cases in the pipeline,” Carandang was quoted in reports as saying in a palace briefing.

The transfer had involved funds from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s (OWWA) Medicare to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and $350,000 (Dh1,285,372) from the administration’s capital fund to several labour attachés in the Middle East during the United States and Iraq crisis.

Aside from the case on the misuse of OWWA and PhilHealth funds, a Manila Trial Court earlier dismissed a criminal charge against Arroyo in connection with the November 2009 Massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao, southern Philippines.

The case against the former president was dismissed for lack of evidence.

Arroyo, who had been suffering from various medical conditions after her term ended in 2010, had been detained at the government-run Veterans Memorial Medical Centre in suburban Quezon City while awaiting trial in connection with the alleged malversation of funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.