Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Repost From GMA News.TV

Ex-Pres. Arroyo faces DOJ in prelim probe of plunder case

Former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Wednesday went to the Department of Justice to attend the preliminary investigation on a plunder complaint filed against her by a private citizen.

Arroyo, who was Philippine president from January 2001 to June 2010, was accompanied by veteran lawyer Estelito Mendoza.

Arroyo did not speak with the media.

Ironically, Mendoza also served as the counsel for deposed President Joseph Estrada, who was forced to step down in January 2001 at the height of a massive street uprising that installed Arroyo to power.

Mendoza led the defense panel during Estrada's plunder trial at the Sandiganbayan. The anti-graft court convicted Estrada in September 2007, but Arroyo pardoned the deposed leader a month later.

Double ironically, Mendoza was also the late Ferdinand Marcos' solicitor general and later Minister of Justice, who served as his pointman in major legal cases, until the strongman was deposed in 1986.

Last August, private citizen Danilo Lihaylihay filed a plunder complaint against Arroyo and four others for the alleged anomalous sale of the old Iloilo airport property in 2007.

The other respondents in the complaint are Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, former Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, former Finance Privatization Council head John Sevilla, and Megaworld Corporation chair Andrew Tan.

Lihaylihay alleged that when the government sold the property to Megaworld in October 2007 for P1.2 billion, the corresponding six-percent capital gains tax amounting to P72 million did not go to government coffers.

"All respondents are guilty of the crime charged, through conspiracy and connivance," said Lihaylihay, who said he is the president of the Philippine Association of Revenue Informers, Inc. and chief investigator of the Vanguard Anti-Graft Task Force, Inc.

Aside from the case filed by Lihaylihay, Arroyo is also facing a second plunder complaint filed by militant group Bayan Muna for her alleged participation in the $329-million national broadband network deal, which was scrapped in 2007 at the height of allegations of overpricing detrimental to government interest.

Despite various efforts to investigate criminal wrongdoing that involved Arroyo during her presidency, no criminal charges against her had prospered due to presidential immunity from suit.

The new administration, led by President Benigno Aquino III, has created a Truth Commission that will look into alleged corruption that plagued the Arroyo administration. However, Arroyo's allies are challenging before the Supreme Court the legality of Executive Order No. 1 that created the truth body. — LBG/JV, GMANews.TV

Reposted From GMA News.TV

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