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Nation

Dismissal of plunder case vs GMA affirmed

- Michael Punongbayan -

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman has affirmed the dismissal of a plunder case filed against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in connection with the alleged questionable sale of a 54.5-hectare property near the Iloilo Airport in 2007.

In a 19-page resolution, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approved the resolution of the Office of the Prosecutor General on Jan. 20, 2011 dismissing the plunder case against the former President, former foreign affairs secretary Alberto Romulo, former executive secretary Eduardo Ermita, former finance secretary Margarito Teves, former Finance Privatization Council head John Philip Sevilla and Andrew Tan of Megaworld Corp. for “utter lack of merit.”

Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro, Preliminary Investigation Administrative Adjudication and Review Bureau Director Mary Antonette Yalao and Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer 1 Francis Euston Acero also signed the ruling.

The ruling was issued after reviewing the findings of the Department of Justice, which also recommended the junking of the complaint filed by one Danilo Lihaylihay for the sale of the property to Megaworld Corp.

In dismissing the complaint, Morales said the complainant failed to present proof of the second element of plunder, which is the acquisition of ill-gotten wealth.

“A cursory look at the allegations made by complainant Lihaylihay shows that he did not allege, much less present any evidence, that either respondent Arroyo, Romulo, Ermita, Teves or Sevilla acquired ill-gotten wealth in the manner described under Section 1(d) of the Anti-Plunder Law,” the anti-graft agency said.

Morales added that complainant’s allegation that there was conspiracy among the respondents in the acquisition of ill-gotten wealth, “is an act of sophistry that the law does not support.” 

“At the end of the day, there is absolutely nothing on record that supports a finding that a public officer was the ultimate beneficiary of the sale of the Iloilo Airport,” she said.

 Lihaylihay filed the complaint for the alleged failure to assess, levy and collect the capital gains tax from the sale of the Iloilo Airport to Megaworld Corp. which the complainant said constitutes theft of public funds and should be considered plunder.

ALBERTO ROMULO

ANTI-PLUNDER LAW

DANILO LIHAYLIHAY

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

EDUARDO ERMITA

FINANCE PRIVATIZATION COUNCIL

FRANCIS EUSTON ACERO

ILOILO AIRPORT

JOHN PHILIP SEVILLA AND ANDREW TAN OF MEGAWORLD CORP

LIHAYLIHAY

MEGAWORLD CORP

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