2 of Arroyo’s coaccused surrender, another may have left countryBy Nikko Dizon, Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Two of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s coaccused in the plunder case stemming from the alleged misuse of P325 million in intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) surrendered to the police late Thursday.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the government would ask for help from Interpol to hunt down one of the ex-President’s nine coaccused, Jose Taruc V.
The Bureau of Immigration said Taruc left the country on July 19 on board a Cathay Pacific flight but it did not have any record of his final destination.
According to De Lima, if the country where Taruc has fled to has a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with the Philippines, then the government would seek his extradition.
Pagdilao said if reports that Taruc has fled abroad is true, the police would ask the Interpol to help them secure a red notice and ask the Department of Foreign Affairs to revoke his passport.
He said a red notice is an “advisory to all member-states that a fugitive from the Philippines is at-large and might be in their respective jurisdictions. So that will help us locate, find out where the fugitives are.”
Former PCSO chair Sergio Valencia and Assistant General Manager Benigno Aguas turned themselves in at the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) office about 6 p.m. on Thursday, said Senior Supt. Joel Coronel, who heads the CIDG in the National Capital Region.
Valencia and Aguas are now detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
“They underwent normal booking procedures for arrest information and booking sheets, fingerprints, photographs and medical examination,” Coronel said.
The police has also received surrender feelers from Raymundo Roquero, a PCSO board director, said PNP-CIDG chief Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr. “We are waiting for that to materialize,” he said.
As of press time on Friday, only Arroyo, Valencia and Aguas were in police custody. (As of Friday midnight, it was confirmed by radio reports that former PCSO board member Manuel Morato was already in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation).
Pagdilao said a manhunt was continuing for Arroyo’s other coaccused: former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte, board member Ma. Fatima Valdes, former Commission on Audit chair Reynaldo Villar and Nilda Plaras, former head of COA’s Bicol regional office.
Pagdilao said police teams failed to serve the arrest warrants on Arroyo’s coaccused on Thursday because “the persons were not in those addresses that we went to.”
He said the police was coordinating with the immigration bureau to verify reports that Taruc has left the country.
It took all of 45 minutes for the police to book Arroyo and once again take away from her the temporary liberty she enjoyed the past two months.
“Thereafter, the arresting team turned over the custody and detention of the former President to the PSPG (Police Security and Protection Group) under Sr. Supt. Diosdado Valeroso who is now tasked to secure and exercise custodial detention over the person of the former President,” Coronel said.
Coronel said the police served the warrant of arrest to Arroyo around 2 p.m. on Thursday at Veterans Memorial Medical Center.
“We informed the administration of VMMC and the representatives of Mrs. Arroyo of the procedures that would be undertaken by the arresting team. We were escorted to the presidential suite where the President was confined and undergoing medical treatment,” he said.
He described the procedure as consisting of the following: a medical examination conducted by the PNP medical officers together with the hospital staff and the attending physician of the former president; filling out of the arrest information and booking records giving the personal details of the accused; fingerprinting of the accused; and the taking of mugshot photos of the former President.