Acquittal of Arroyo blamed on Aquino

The dismissal of charges against Arroyo does not bode well for justice in the country and for any serious effort to stem corruption in government.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat

MANILA – Groups blamed former President Benigno Aquino III for the dismissal of plunder charges against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Voting 11-4, the Supreme Court junked Tuesday, July 19, the plunder charges against Arroyo due to “lack of evidence.” The case involved the alleged misuse of P366 million ($7.8 million) from the funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office fund.

Eight of the 11 justices who voted in favor of Arroyo were her appointees.

The dismissal of charges against Arroyo does not bode well for justice in the country and for any serious effort to stem corruption in government.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in a statement said the Aquino government must be denounced and made to answer for having filed “the weakest” among the several possible plunder and criminal cases against Arroyo.

The CPP noted that Arroyo was neither charged for her involvement in $32.9-million ZTE Broadband deal nor in the $2-million IMPSA deal.

“It is clear that the filing of charges against Arroyo was merely political play acting and a ploy to disenfranchise Arroyo and not so much a serious effort to attain justice for the tribulations suffered by the Filipino people,” the CPP said, adding that not one top official of Arroyo administration has been punished.

Insult

Karapatan said that while plunderers and murderers like Arroyo are set free from prison, more than 500 political prisoners remain in jail, many of them arrested during the Arroyo regime.

Gabriela said Arroyo’s impending release it is “tantamount to rubbing salt on the wounds of suffering of women political prisoners.”

According to human rights alliance Karapatan, there are 48 women political prisoners in the country.

Karapatan said Aquino also failed to prosecute and punish Arroyo for human rights abuses.

Under Arroyo, the group documented 1,206 victims of extrajudicial killings, 206 victims of enforced disappearances, 1,028 victims of torture, and hundreds of thousands were forcibly displaced in rural areas as a result of military operations.

Both the civil and criminal charges filed by the Morong 43 and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) remain pending.

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said the Aquino administration did not prosecute Arroyo despite recommendations from the United Nations Human Rights Committee on the cases of Benjaline Hernandez, Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy.

In 2008, the UNHRC concluded that the Philippine government violated the rights of Eden Marcellana, then secretary general of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, and Eddie Gumanoy, former secretary general of peasant group Kasama-TK, who were victims of extrajudicial killings in April 2003.

In 2010, the UNHRC found the Philippine government guilty of violating the right to life of Benjaline Hernandez who was killed by Army soldiers and militiamen on April 5, 2002 in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato.

On Duterte

The CPP found it “lamentable” that the representatives of the Duterte administration did not pose objections to Arroyo’s petition consistent with Duterte’s opinion that the case against the former president was weak.

The CPP said Duterte’s justice officials could have bid for time and undertake measures to review and strengthen the case.

“The dismissal of charges and release of Arroyo is a manifestation of the lopsided justice system and rotten politics of accommodation that is the hallmark of the ruling reactionary political system,” the CPP said. ()

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