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Gloria Arroyo ready to face new wave of graft raps

Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo gets a kiss from former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. The former president, now a congresswoman from Pampanga, is being accused of committing corrupt practices she allegedly committed while she was chief executive.

MANILA, July 15 (Mabuhay) – Even though she is saddened over the new wave of graft accusations against her, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is ready to face the charges against her before a proper forum, her legal spokesman said on Friday.

Lawyer and defeated senatorial candidate Raul Lambino said Mrs. Arroyo will face the charges against her after returning to the country this weekend from a trip to Europe.

According to Lambino, Mrs. Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel were expected to return earlier this week but extended their stay in Europe because of their many engagements there.

Lambino said the former Philippine leader is willing to face the accusations against her before the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Sa DOJ at Ombudsman …makakapag-submit tayo ng dokumento at position sa pamamagitan ng affidavit at konkretong ebidensya at ibang bagay para mapabulaanan ang mga sinasabi ng mga kritiko ng dating pangulo,” Lambino said.

“Siyempre nasasaktan ang dating Pangulong Gloria Arroyo at ang kanyang pamilya sa mga ginagawa sa kanya sa kasalukuyan. Pero nakahanda siya at ang kanyang pamilya na harapin ang mga ibinabato laban sa kanya,” Lambino said.

New charges

Earlier this week, Mrs. Arroyo was slapped with new graft and plunder cases for the alleged misuse of PCSO intelligence funds during her term as president.

Bayan Muna party-list Representatives Teodoro Casiño and Neri Colmenares filed the case before the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday.

Charged along with Mrs. Arroyo was former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte, who admitted requesting P325 million in intelligence funds for the PCSO from 2008 to 2010.

Lambino noted the complainants had also sought a lifestyle check on Mrs. Arroyo.

“Their [critics] call for a lifestyle check shows they are still fishing for evidence to back their allegations,” he said.

‘Massive, well-funded campaign’

Lambino alleged that the accusations against Arroyo were part of a “massive, well-funded campaign” by Malacañang.

He also questioned the claims made by suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy Ampatuan and former provincial election supervisor Lintang Bedol linking Mrs. Arroyo to poll fraud in 2007.

“Ito ay hearsay. Hindi ito dapat paniwalaan dahil hakahaka, rumor ito… massive well-funded campaign kasi yan ang gusto nilang gawin. Ang ganito kalawak na media campaign ay orchestrated… may bendisyon ng napalakas na tao o grupo,” he said.

When asked on who could be behind the smear campaign against Mrs. Arroyo, Lambino said it is someone capable of a “demolition job” even against the Catholic Church.

According to Lambino, the group behind this massive demolition job needs billions of pesos to do such a campaign.

“Hindi lang daang milyon ang kailangan kundi bilyong piso para banggain ang institution tulad ng simbahan at paglagay nito araw-araw sa radio, TV at headline ng mga dyaryo. Hindi biro ang pera para sa massive media campaign. Walang iba kung hindi ang Malacañang ang pwede gumawa ng ganyang kampanya,” he said.

On Thursday, Malacañang dared Mrs. Arroyo to come out and directly answer the allegations of poll fraud instead of accusing the Aquino administration of orchestrating the “revelations.”

“The best way for her to respond to this is to answer the charges directly if ever,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said at a press briefing. (MNS) ■

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