MANILA (PNA) — The Office of the Ombudsman said last April 19 that the generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) charged in the so-called “pabaon” case are not yet off the hook.
It was recalled that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approved the recommendations of the Ombudsman panel that twice reviewed a resolution of the Department of Justice which conducted the preliminary investigation of the complaint for plunder filed by complainant, Col. George Rabusa.
In the two Ombudsman panel reports (one focusing on plunder and the other on possible other crimes), the Ombudsman affirmed the DOJ panel’s recommendation to dismiss the charges against 11 respondents, and reversed the DOJ panel’s finding of probable cause against the 11 other respondents for insufficiency of evidence.
“It is up to the parties to avail themselves, if they so wish, of the remedy of filing a motion for reconsideration. This is why the Office has been silent in discussing or explaining the merits of the case outside of those written in the approved report. One party might charge us of opening another party’s eyes on what to do,” Morales said.
Morales clarified that contrary to allegations she did not exercise the power to conduct case build-up, she said one of the recommendations she had approved was the conduct of a fact-finding investigation on the “alleged misuse or irregular purchase of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in 2001” and a request to the Commission on Audit (COA) to “conduct a fraud audit on the following projects:
a) CMO Project Balik Baril Program; b) CMO Project Sunshine/Millennium Aurora; c) Utilization of MNL Personal Service Funds; d) Utilization of funds covering the Allotment Advices;” e) the “purchase of Howitzer ammunition from the Government of Thailand;” and f) the bank account Rabusa opened and maintained.”
Morales said the Ombudsman has been conducting a case build-up since September 2012 and has also requested the COA chairperson to submit copies of any COA audit findings on the questionable projects.
She said she had expected to complete the case build-up in a few months after the Ombudsman panel reports were approved, so that a third report could encapsulate everything.
Considering, however, the additional time needed by the field investigators, the letters requesting early resolution of the review of the DOJ resolution and the entirely new evidence not touched upon in the DOJ proceedings, the Ombudsman decided to release the approved panel report months after their approval.
The Ombudsman panel, chaired by Directors Ireneo Paldeng and Maria Olivia Elena Roxas, said the panel had realized its authority to review was confined only to passing upon the findings and recommendations of the DOJ panel, and because of this, it recommended the conduct of a case build-up by the Ombudsman and the conduct of a fraud audit by COA.
“Not affording the respondents a chance to confront any new evidence that may surface during the case build-up will run afoul of the due process requirement,” Paldeng said.