The cornerstone of former President Benigno Simeon Aquino’s so-called fight against corruption — the jailing of his predecessor, former President Gloria Arroyo — just got shot down by the Supreme Court. The last remaining case against Arroyo, which was the plunder case over the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds, was finally dismissed by the high court. The decision is proof that BS Aquino did not have the goods on Arroyo from the very start. He just used the promise of jailing Arroyo to win the gullible voters over to his “cause” way back in 2010.
BS Aquino made prosecuting Arroyo the rallying point of his campaign and then of his administration. He made it look like he was after the “big fish”. But it was obvious to some people that it was persecution that he was after. He didn’t care about due process as long as he could show Arroyo detained or locked up. He didn’t care about her medical condition and neither did he show respect for a former teacher, ally and head of state.
At first, the public was pleased with his bold move. They were impressed by the speed with which his minions managed to file a case against her to prevent her departure overseas. As mentioned before, back in 2011, there was pandemonium at the Manila international airport when former Department of Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima panicked after she found out Arroyo was leaving the country and ordered officers at the airport to help bar her from leaving for Singapore. And with the assistance of the media in inciting anger against Arroyo, some members of the public also joined the fray — besieging her at the airport. Her frail and helpless appearance on a wheelchair did not stop them from acting like a lynch mob. The scene resulted in a standoff because Arroyo’s supporters insisted on her Constitutional right to travel abroad.
De Lima’s initial violation back then was in defying the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order on the travel ban against Arroyo. De Lima even risked disbarment for ignoring the highest court’s order.
Fast forward to today, the Supreme Court’s decision did not surprise most people. Many eventually realised that the cases against Arroyo were trumped-up. One by one, the cases were dismissed due to a lack of evidence and witnesses to testify. As written before back on 2013, years of Malacañang’s unyielding commitment to putting GMA behind bars had only resulted in the dismissal of all the charges. Obviously, the charges against GMA had been filed even when the evidence was still “half-cooked”. Evidently, the evidence was based on “innuendoes, half-truths and propaganda”.
It seems the only people who were shocked that the last remaining case against Arroyo was dismissed are BS Aquino’s most rabid supporters. Both De Lima and Ombudsman Conchita Morales expressed their dismay that the case was dismissed. De Lima kept implying that President Rodrigo Duterte, an Arroyo ally, had something to do with her acquittal. Frankly, they are behaving like they received an uppercut – a blow they didn’t see coming. Goes to show they aren’t very smart at all. De Lima as a lawyer and Morales as former Supreme Court judge should have realised that the case against her wasn’t water tight. The prosecution did not do their job properly:
The evidence against her was weak, said [Arroyo] through her lawyers. She argued that “not a single exhibit of the 637 exhibits offered by the prosecution nor a single testimony of the 21 witnesses of the prosecution was offered by the prosecution to prove that [Arroyo] amassed, accumulated, or acquired even a single peso of the alleged ill-gotten wealth.”The prosecution also failed to show or detail the paper trail to prove that Arroyo committed the charges she was indicted for, said the Pampanga lawmaker.
Arroyo has been vindicated, indeed. She survived five years detained at the Veterans Hospital with very little contact with her loved ones. She lost five years of her life – years that could have been spent as a productive citizen. She could have had her medical condition fixed abroad like she wanted to back in 2011. Not only did she waste five years of her life detained, her reputation was also tainted. While some have finally realised that she was a victim of BS Aquino’s personal vendetta, there are some people — those who were gullible enough to believe the lies — who still think she is guilty even when the cases against her were dismissed. For that, Arroyo should consider filing a case against BS Aquino to compensate her. She could use the United Nations Human Rights Council ruling in 2015 that the BS Aquino government needed to compensate her for damages during what they consider to be illegal detention.
Despite what Arroyo went through, she is actually luckier than former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. Corona passed away without getting the chance to clear his name. Corona, who was removed from office at the order of BS Aquino, was also a victim of public persecution. The cases against him were also dismissed.
Arroyo’s patience and perseverance paid off. BS Aquino and his rabid supporters look like fools now. In his singular focus on persecuting Arroyo, BS Aquino became a victim of his own arrogance and vindictive nature. They proved that haste is waste. Had they been more diligent and worked harder at building a stronger case against Arroyo, they could have won. But we all know BS Aquino does not have the discipline and foresight to win anything on his own. He was just lucky to ride the wave of his mother’s popularity. Too bad his luck has finally run out.