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Ex-President Arroyo, son rapped with P676-M plunder at Ombudsman

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(Office of the Ombudsman logo)

MANILA (PNA) — Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her son, Camarines Sur (2nd District) Rep. Diosdado Ignacio Arroyo, were charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman Tuesday.

The charge was in connection with two aborted infrastructure projects in Camarines Sur province allegedly costing P676 million.

The former president is currently detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City for a separate plunder case in connection with alleged misuse of P366-million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office confidential/intelligence funds during her incumbency.

She is seeking re-election as representative of the second district of Pampanga during the May 13, 2013 elections.

In a 17-page complaint, lawyers Robert Guevarra and Renecio Espiritu, Jr. accused Mrs. Arroyo of using public funds to boost her son’s congressional candidacy in the second district of Camarines Sur during the May 10, 2010 elections.

The complaint said: “The shameless and unconscionable use of the people’s money was done in order to create for then presidential son, Dato Arroyo, a political bailiwick in the province of Camarines Sur.

“Respondents, by their deliberate, brazen and wanton act, treated public funds as if it were private bank accounts to be dispensed as their royalesque caprice and frivolity see fit.”

The complainants argued Mrs. Arroyo allotted millions of pesos for dam, irrigation and bridge projects in Camarines Sur as a “birthday gift” to her son in 2008, who ran and later won as congressman in the second district of Camarines Sur in 2010.

“These projects were rushed in time for respondent Dato Arroyo’s re-election bid in 2010… Billions of pesos were spent and wasted as these projects turned out to be economically unviable and damaging to the lives of the residents and the ecosystem found in the affected communities,” the complaint said.

The complainants cited the Libmanan-Cabusao Dam Project, which they claimed was “rushed with neither consultation with the affected communities nor adequate study about its adverse effects.”

They also cited a study from the Ateneo de Naga University’s Institute for Environmental Conservation and Research that said the construction of the dam “is not justified” since it may displace residents from Lupi and Sipocot towns, both in Camarines Sur.

The same study also said the dam may “destroy irreplaceable ecosystems and livelihoods” in Lupi and Sipocot towns.

The complainants also argued the dam project was suspended by the National Irrigation Administration “due to its social unacceptability.”

They used as basis of their complaint the Skybridge Project linking four areas in Camarines Sur, which supposedly remains incomplete up to this day because the bridges “would have to be constructed on a very soft ground.”

They said these projects caused “undue injury to the government” and likewise gave “undue advantage” to Dato Arroyo during the May 10, 2010 elections.

They added Mrs. Arroyo and her son’s actions constitute both plunder and graft and corruption. (MNS)

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