Former Philippine president moves to have plunder charges from misuse of sweepstakes funds suspended

gloria macapagal arroyo motion to suspend chargesMy how the mighty have fallen.

Ever since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo left her lofty perch as the president of the Philippines, the woman has taken hit after hit in the Philippine courts and the court of public opinion. Now the former president is fighting back after filing a motion to suspend plunder charges that were levied against her and her former constituents by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales over the alleged misuse of Php 365.9 million of the Philippine Charity and Sweepstakes Office’s intelligence fund, as reported by the Manila Standard.

According to her lawyer Christian Diaz, the filing of the motion to suspend proceedings and the issuance of arrest warrants comes three days before her case is to be raffled on July 20 at the graft court’s Third Division courtroom. It sure sounds like a pre-emptive move by Macapagal-Arroyo to delay her day in court and it really comes as no surprise to us too.

Earlier this week, Ombudsman Morales approved the filing of plunder and technical malversation charges against the former president and a number of her former officers at PCSO. In the charges, Macapagal-Arroyo is being accused of authorizing former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte to “disburse the amount from the agency’s intelligence funds to monitor various charity projects from 2007 to 2010”. In addition,  the former president also allegedly instructed COA chair Reynaldo Villar and COA Intelligence Fund Unit auditor Nilda Plaras to cover up the said disbursement.

For a country that has seen its fair share of controversies surrounding its government officials, this latest case is further proof just how far Macapagal-Arroyo has fallen in the eyes of her countrymen and it comes as no surprise that her motion has drawn a ton of reaction in the country, including the current administration, who, according to the Manila Standard, denied that they had a hand in Ombudsman Morales’ decision to approve the filing of the charges.

“The Executive branch has no control or influence over the Office of Ombudsman,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, “and, time and again, there were certain instances or cases where the Ombudsman has dismissed a case against the former President or lower the crime charge.”

It’s safe to say that however long former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will try to delay the courts, it’s only a matter of time before she has to face all the charges being meted against her. It’s high time we get some clarity on all those issues for everybody involved. Whether she’s guilty or not, the Filipino people need closure on the Macapagal-Arroyo era.