Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Second Plunder Case Filed Against GMA

While the Department of Justice is still reviewing a plunder complaint filed against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for her alleged failure to remit about 72 million pesos in capital gains tax after the sale of a prime government property to a private developer, another complaint was filed last Tuesday that the former president diverted about 550 million pesos from the overseas workers’ fund to pay health cards with her image on them to boost her 2004 election campaign.

The complaint, which was filed by former Solicitor General Frank Chavez, alleges that the money which was intended to fund repatriation, medical care and other needs of overseas workers was misused when it was allegedly diverted to pay for health cards available to all Filipinos.

Chavez also claimed that Arroyo diverted 21.5 million pesos to pay for diplomatic vehicles in the Middle East in support of the US-led war in Iraq and humanitarian assistance to Filipinos in Iraq in 2003. He disclosed that three government officials conspired with Arroyo to divert the money.

It is expected that the former president who now sits in the House of Representatives or her camp will come up with a statement denying any irregularity.

It is now up to the Department of Justice to determine if there is sufficient evidence for an indictment. We can only hope for a swift and impartial process.

Some observers can only question the timing. There have been insinuations that this is the government’s ploy to divert people’s attention amidst the rising cost of basic commodities and its inability to provide concrete solutions to alleviate poverty. This, I think is very unlikely. This news is sure to steal the headlines and a good respite from the string of bad news that has invaded newspaper in the last couple of days. Frank Chavez is a known Arroyo critic but I doubt that he is being used by this administration.

Personally, personalities are immaterial. It shouldn’t matter who filed the complaint and who is the respondent. As citizens, we all have the responsibility to report any wrongdoing or abuse especially if it was committed by a person holding a government office. Government officials should be accountable to the people.

If the government wants to send a crystal clear message that it is hell-bent on fighting corruption and prosecuting corrupt officials, it should start by going after “big fishes.” It is not enough to file charges; we hope to see these unscrupulous government officials behind bars.

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