Friday, October 5, 2012

Sandiganbayan issues warrant vs. Arroyo

..An arrest warrant may complicate Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's re-election bid. The Sandiganbayan has issued an arrest warrant against Arroyo for plunder over the alleged misuse of funds from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, television and radio reports said. The order was signed by Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz of the anti-graft court's First Division on Wednesday but was released on Thursday. The plunder charge, which the Office of the Ombudsman approved in July, alleges Arroyo approved the diversion of PCSO intelligence funds for other purposes. The supposed diversion, which was subject to a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation, put some of the money meant for intelligence operations into aid for calamity victims and migrant workers in legal trouble. The money was also used to promote Small Town Lottery, the PCSO's answer to the illegal numbers game jueteng. The Office of the Ombudsman also questioned the increase in intelligence funds for the sweepstakes office. It already had intelligence funds of P108 million in 2008, which grew to P150 million in 2010. Intelligence funds are not subject to regular auditing rules. Arroyo is currently out on bail for an electoral sabotage case, where she has pleaded not guilty. She has likewise pleaded not guilty to a separate graft case over the ZTE National Broadband Network deal. She filed her candidacy papers for re-election on Wednesday. ..