Philippines Try To Find New Charges Against Arroyo

Former Philippine President and now Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo arrives at the Pasay City Court, in suburban Manila, in February 2012. The Philippine government ombudsman called for graft charges to be filed against Arroyo for unproven diversion of state lottery funds in the latest accusation to hit her. Arroyo remains confined in a government hospital while facing charges of vote-rigging.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, whose office is in charge of investigating government officials, called on an anti-graft court to file “plunder” charges against Arroyo and nine other government officials. The Ombudsman said it had found Arroyo, 65, and the others, mostly former state lottery officials, had diverted about 366 million pesos ($8.7 million) in lottery funds from 2008 to 2010.

“The respondents’ series or combination of acts form a pattern… of misuse and raid of (lottery funds) from 2008-2010… all while taking advantage of their respective official functions,” the statement said. It did not say what became of the money but Arroyo critics have alleged that it was used in the 2010 presidential and legislative elections.

If convicted of the crime, Arroyo, who stepped down in 2010 amid charges of graft and manipulating elections, could face 20 years in jail.

Arroyo’s lawyer Anaceleto Diaz said the new accusation was devoid of merit, adding it was “another dark day for the rule of law”. He said in a statement it was just part of a campaign that President Benigno Aquino had been running against Arroyo, his chief political opponent.

Aquino, who was elected in a landslide in 2010, has long accused Arroyo of massive corruption and other abuses of power and has declared his intention of seeing her jailed.

Arroyo, who was in office for nearly a decade, was arrested late last year on charges of allegedly rigging the 2007 senatorial elections. She also faces charges of approving an allegedly anomalous contract to set up a national government broadband system. She, who was elected to Congress in 2010, is confined in a government hospital while suffering from what she says is a rare spinal disease.

Comelec To Oppose Arroyo Trip

Last Tuesday, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) said that it would be a challenge in the court for former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s fresh bid to seek medical treatment abroad, citing her tendency to “amplify” her health condition.

It was said and stressed by COMELEC Chair, Sixto Brillantes Jr., which was very risky for Arroyo to be allowed to leave the country since she is currently detained at Veterans Memorial Medical Center on charges of electoral sabotage.

“We don’t want to allow her again this time because she used to say that before and it turned out that she can be treated by our doctors here,” Brillantes told the reporters last Tuesday in a telephone interview.

Brillantes was referring to Arroyo’s previous attempt to leave the country supposedly for treatment of a rare bone disease. Also he said that the electoral sabotage was a capital offense so Arroyo could not just be allowed to simply leave the country. He said foreign doctors should instead be brought to the country to examine her.

Conceding that the Pasay City Regional Trial Court of trying the case against Arroyo has the final say on the issue, he said that the COMELEC would “ask for verification and check up on her true condition.”

Previously, a source coming from a close person to the Arroyo family said that the former President, who is now a representative of her hometown in Pampanga, was facing a “life-threatening condition” due to complications arising from her earlier surgery to treat her neck ailment.

On Thursday, Arroyo decided to undergo the Quantum electrochemistry examination at Makati Medical Center after experiencing choking sensations and shortness of breath.

A doctor present during the examination has said that a corrective surgery had to be done abroad as “no doctor would touch her here because of her delicate medical situation.”

A close Arroyo ally, House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, said that the former President had to seek medical treatment abroad because no Filipino doctor was willing to perform a surgery for her.

“They are hesitant because they are afraid that this might lead to her death. They know that she has a very rare ailment,” Suarez said in an interview with reporters.

He said Arroyo had identified medical experts abroad who were willing to perform the delicate surgery. He said the minority bloc would file a resolution appealing to President Aquino to allow Arroyo to leave.

He said the minority would use as a precedent the decision of then President Ferdinand Marcos to allow Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, the current President’s father who was under detention, to seek medical treatment abroad for his heart ailment.

“Why was Ninoy allowed to get treatment in the US when there are heart specialists in the country?” asked Suarez. “I think the President will consider our request because his only condition was if GMA (Arroyo) would return to which we have no doubts.”

P-Noy Richer By P10 Million In 2011

It was stated and showed in the latest statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of President Benigno Aquino III that he grew richer by P10.130 million last year which was then submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Aquino declared that as of December 31, 2011, he is to be worth P65.130 million, with P32.162 million in real properties and P32.967 million in personal and other assets, as opposed to P54.999 million in the previous year.

The increase of Aquino’s wealth last year is mostly revealed in the value of his real properties, which amounted to P22.073 million as of December 31, 2010.

His house in Quezon City was identified under inheritance was previously declared to be worth only P13.796 million but today was now valued at P23.6 million.

Aquino’s personal and other properties which cover motor vehicles, cash on hand and cash in bank, receivables, and other assets went down a little from P33.155 million in 2010 to PP32.967 million last year.

In total, Aquino’s net worth grew from P50.194 million as of June 30, 2010 to P65.130 million as of Dec. 31, 2011, after 18 months in office with an annual income of P1.212 million.

Aquino had earlier explained that the increase in his net worth last year can be attributed to inheritance, the transfer or documentation of which were completed only in 2011.

Aquino has so far submitted three SALNs before the Office of the Ombudsman, which is the official depository of the same along with that of the vice president and the heads of other constitutional bodies.

Aquino’s predecessor, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s SALNS show that she grew richer by as much as P76 million during her nine years in office, from 2001 to 2010.

Former President Arroyo will undergo in a surgery

Former President Gloaria Macapagal-Arroyo

Former President Gloaria Macapagal-Arroyo

The former President of the Philippines and now the current Representative of Pampanga, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, needs to undergo in a dangerous operation this week due to the damaged in her cervical spine with multi-level cervical spondylosis.

According to her physician, Dr. Juliet Cervates from St. Luke’s Medical Center, operation must be done immediately to prevent Rep. Arroyo from likely paralysis. Dr. Cervantes also noted the danger of conducting the medical operation.

“This can lead to paralysis. Tests are being conducted for her surgery,” Dr. Cervantes said as she issued the latest medical bulletin at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City.

“The surgery will decompress the nerves and align the cervical bones. The surgery is risky since it involves the spinal cord and nerves that enable hand movement and breathing,” Cervantes told a press conference.

She said Arroyo is conscious but has been told to rest. The former president will also undergo work-up in preparation for her surgery.

Cervantes acknowledged that recent news developments have aggravated Arroyo’s condition.

“All the stresses that are happening contributed to her condition,” said Cervantes.

Malacañang has no plans of a Military take over in case of election polls failure

Presidential Spokesperson Gary Olivar

Presidential Spokesperson Gary Olivar

MANILA, Philippines – President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s spokesman assured Thursday that Malacañang will not order the military to intervene in case of a total failure of the automated elections.

“Mangyari man iyon ay there are are available remedies sa Comelec, sa korte at Kongreso. May mga remedies na available (Assuming it happens (total failure of elections), there are available remedies available in the Comelec (Commission on Elections), the courts and in Congress. There are available remedies),” deputy presidential spokesperson Gary Olivar said in an interview over ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda.

Olivar said Malacañang is confident that a total failure of elections will not ignite a high level of unrest that “needs military intervention.”


Relatives of the massacre victims not impressed with Agra’s sudden change

Relatives of victims of the Nov. 23 Maguindanao massacre are not impressed with (even if they welcome) the turnaround of Justice Secretary Alberto Agra on the murder charges against two members of the Ampatuan clan.

Human rights lawyer Harry Roque Jr. on Thursday said the victims still do not expect justice under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo rule, and would rather wait for the next administration to pursue the case.

Agra earlier cleared suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan and suspended Mamasapano Mayor Akmad Ampatuan from the case, saying there was no probable cause against them for murder.


Palace dares critics to present power generation solutions

MANILA, March 4 — Malacanang is challenging its critics to present, for assessment and possible implementation, measures that can help President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo address the country’s power problems.

“They must give solutions and not just attack government,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Charito Planas said.

She noted that people, including the 2010 presidential aspirants, must be pro-active and give their suggestions because merely criticizing and blaming government for the power crisis would not address this problem.

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GMA starts bidding troops goodbye

MANILA, Philippines – The commander-in-chief has started bidding goodbye to the troops.

President Arroyo on Tuesday paid a farewell call on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and reminded its members of the benefits that her administration has given them.

AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. said the “private visit” at Camp Aguinaldo did not dwell on any controversial issue such as the proposed term extension of AFP chief Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado or the May elections.

“It was a farewell visit. She took that time to thank the soldiers for their loyal service to the country. She also said she was genuinely concerned about the welfare of soldiers so she made sure the benefits of soldiers – the pay and allowances – were increased during her term,” he said.

“Basically that was her message. There were no instructions about the elections… There was no mention of any extension (of Ibrado’s term), no mention of any appointment,” he added.

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Palace exec: Arroyo to stay away from Gibo sorties

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will likely keep away from the sorties of administration standard bearer Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. during the entire campaign period, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Deputy presidential spokeswoman Charito Planas said President Arroyo will also refuse to answer questions about politics, choosing to spend her remaining days in office to “inspect” projects.

“Mrs. Arroyo wants certain government projects finished, so she will not answer questions about the campaign. Her attention is completely on wrapping up her presidency and checking the status of projects,” Planas said in an interview on dzXL radio.

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Justice Corona’s voting record favors Arroyo

MANILA, Philippines –The voting record of Supreme Court Associate Justice Renato Corona, who has finally broken his silence and accepted the nomination for Chief Justice, shows that he has consistently sided with the administration in politically-significant cases.

When Newsbreak tracked the voting pattern of Supreme Court justices, including the two leading contenders for chief justice—Corona and Justice Antonio Carpio—from 2001 to early 2008, Corona lodged a high 78 percent in favor of Arroyo, with Carpio at 42 percent. (Read: Voting pattern of Supreme Court justices)

Corona is the sole senior magistrate to consider, what many legal experts say, is a midnight appointment to the SC.

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