Justice and accountability from Arroyo's administration

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Wednesday, 30 June 2010 - Last Updated on June 30, 2010

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There is no quietly in former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s term ending. Arroyo is now joining the 15th Congress as the representative of the 2nd District of the province of Pampanga. Therefore, the end of Arroyo’s immunity from law suits will end on July 1st, also the first day for the new President elect Benigno Noynoy Aquino III.

According to Arroyo administration’s Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza, Arroyo is already expecting court cases to be filed when she steps down from presidency and their camp is ready to address these challenges as long as the cases will undergo due process.

Progressive groups to file suit

Militant groups are about to file criminal and civil cases against Arroyo. Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Teddy Casino told that come July 1st, there will be cases filed against Arroyo and her allies for being involved in anomalies and scandals in the government, particularly a plunder suit on the basis of the $329 million NBN-ZTE deal during her term. The groups will also file charges against the former president for violating the Anti-Graft and Corruption Act and the Code of Conduct and the Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Employees.

According to Republic Act No. 7080 Section 2, public officials by himself or with family, allies and the like who accumulated or acquired ill-gotten wealth worth summative of 50 million pesos by means of criminal acts according to Section 1 (d) shall be guilty of plunder and will be punished by reclusion perpetua of death.

“Justice has to be done. It’s been elusive for the past 5 to 6 years. We’ve been told before that suing the President is impossible because she has immunity but we have to show that just because you’re the president doesn’t mean you can do wrong things and get away with it. As soon as her immunity lapses, she will face cases,” Casino said.

Last year, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez dismissed impeachment charges against Arroyo because of the president’s immunity from suits while in the post. Gutierrez is to remain in position until 2012, Bayan Muna admitted that their only problem regarding the suits is that they are required to pass it to the Ombudsman’s office and Gutierrez’s bias for the former president.

“Our problem now is we have no other recourse but to go to the Ombudsman. We are just hoping na ngayong wala na ang kinakatigan niya sa pwesto, baka naman maging patas na siya,” Casiño said.

In an ABS-CBN interview, newly appointed Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told reporters that now that GMA’s position stepped down being part of the lower house, immunity from suits have decreased. Arroyo will have to face and answer all her, her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo’s and her former administration’s questionable deals and anomalous transactions.

De Lima also said that the Truth Commission, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Hilario Davide, should first collate all the former administration’s inconsistencies as basis for the prosecution of Arroyo and cronies.

GMA’s legacy of controversies

In the nine years of Arroyo’s presidency, her administration has been involved with numerous questionable and anomalous activities. She was named as the most corrupt Philippine president according to a Pulse Asia survey. Aside from the NBN-ZTE deal, there have been other controversial deeds under the former government which will eventually be the basis for charges against the Arroyo administration.

P631.5 million Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, the 2003 fertilizer scam worth P728 million, the “Hello Garci” scandal on 2005 where the former president said sorry for communicating with Commission on Elections’ chief Virgilio Garcillano, the P260 million Jose Pidal account of the first gentleman, the northrail project where as much as $503 million was involved, the $20,000 Le Cirque dinner in New York, and the controversial Eurogenerals, are some of the notorious acts during the Arroyo administration which will be collated by the Aquino administration’s Truth Commission.

Despite of these, Arroyo continuously denies any offense her administration was accused of.

The Truth Commission

President Aquino formed a Truth Commission to find closure from the former administration’s alleged crimes. It is tasked to investigate Arroyo and cronies’ scandals and prosecute them if proven guilty.

“This truth commission is the body that I promised the people I would set up to put a closure to so many issues. The commission will, as necessary, prepare and prosecute cases to make sure those who committed crimes aga
inst the people will be made to pay,” Aquino said.

The commission is headed by retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide who once worked alongside Arroyo. Davide will work with De Lima in the commission, they will collate data, evidence and proof as to who committed the illegalities according to Aquino.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) said that the Truth Commission should go after the Arroyos, Gen. Jovito Palparan, Garcillano and Joc-joc Bolante.

The people will expect concrete results and finality with these anomalies with the help of the commission after numerous failed attempts to prosecute Arroyo and allies in the past years according to BAYAN.

“The various impeachment complaints can serve as a starting point in the gathering of evidence for the prosecution of Arroyo, Bolante, Garcillano and Palparan. They are just some of the notorious officials of the Arroyo regime who should be held accountable along with Gloria,” BAYAN said.

The militant group wants to prosecute Garcillano for election fraud, Bolante for the fertilizer scam and Palparan for the extrajudicial killings alongside their chief Arroyo.

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