Ailing Morato shows up in court
Ailing former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Director Manuel Morato on Thursday appeared at the Sandiganbayan for his arraignment on plunder charges, which was postponed for a third time pending the Supreme Court decision on Morato’s petition to stop the proceedings.
Morato’s arraignment was postponed twice before for health reasons. He underwent a heart bypass operation last Oct. 22 at the St. Luke’s Medical Center where is he is currently on hospital arrest under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation.
Morato was given 10 more days before being made to appear in court again while a possible temporary restraining order from the high court is awaited.
His lawyer, Dante Diaz, said it would be moot and academic to have the arraignment while there is a pending petition to the stop the proceedings at the high tribunal.
Justice Efren de la Cruz, the chair of the 1st Division, has rescheduled the arraignment for Dec. 3.
Morato, who looked frail, was in a wheelchair when he appeared in court.
He is one of the 10 accused in a plunder case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other former officials of the PCSO and the Commission on Audit in connection with the alleged misuse of some P366 million in PCSO funds by the previous administration.