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Ex-PCSO GM spent P338M more than was allowed

Rosario Uriarte

Former General Manager Rosario Uriarte. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—A former top ranking official of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) made unauthorized disbursements amounting to P337.68 million from the confidential intelligence funds (CIF) of the agency during in the last three years of the Arroyo administration, according to documents obtained from the PCSO.

Documents showed that former PCSO general manager (GM) Rosario Uriarte withdrew a total of P352.68 from the PCSO’s intelligence funds from 2008 to June 2010 although her office’s authorized allocation from the CIF for the three-year period amounted only to just P15 million.

The CIF was first implemented during the Estrada administration upon the request of former PCSO chairman Rosario N. Lopez “to buy” information to determine if the funds and ambulances were being used for the purposes for which they were really intended.

“In order to effectively and efficiently implement these charitable activities and projects and noncharities as mandated by the various laws, there is need for continuous and discreet monitoring, thereof, specially their utilization and/or usage so that the public may feel the impact of government care and concern for the marginalized sectors of our society,” Lopez had said.

The PCSO chairman and general manager were entitled to receive an annual CIF allocation of P5 million each.

‘Midnight’ withdrawals

Documents signed by Mercedes J. Hinayon, acting manager of the treasury department of PCSO, showed that Uriarte withdrew P138.22 million from the CIF from January to June 2010 alone.

Uriarte made 11 withdrawals in the six-month period, just before President Aquino assumed office in July 2010, on top of the P132.76 million she withdrew in 2009 and P81.69 million in 2008.

Thus, Uriarte withdrew a total of P352.68 million from the CIF in just three years.

In another document, Hinayon revealed that former PCSO chair Sergio Valencia spent P13.31 million from the CIF from 2008 to 2010, still below the authorized P15 million allocation for the three-year period.

Hinayon said Valencia withdrew P4.8 million from the CIF in 2008, P5.6 million in 2009 and another P2.7 million in 2010, for a total of P13.3 million in three years while he was PCSO chairman.

Hinayon said Uriarte was authorized to disburse only P15 million from CIF for three years but her withdrawals reached P352.68 million. On the other hand, Valencia used P13 million of his authorized P15 million CIF during the same period.

Plunder raps

Uriarte and Valencia, along with other former PCSO officials, are now coaccused in the plunder case filed against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the alleged misuse of PCSO funds.

Other former PCSO officials charged were former board members Manuel Morato, Jose Taruc V, Raymundo Roquero and Ma. Fatima Valdes; and former assistant general manager for finance Benigno Aguas.

Also indicted were former Commission on Audit Chairman Reynaldo Villar and Nilda Plaras, who served as intelligence/confidential fund audit unit head.

Former PCSO board member Ma. Alleta Tolentino earlier claimed that former President Arroyo had a direct hand in the diversion of the CIF from the charity agency in the last three years of her administration.

Tolentino said under the “modus operandi,” GM Uriarte signed memorandum orders requesting for the disbursement of the funds. The MOs would be directly brought to the Office of the President and then signed by Arroyo.

Tolentino and the prosecution team presented seven MOs from 2008 to 2010 that were initialed by Arroyo to show the conspiracy between Malacañang and Uriarte in diverting funds supposedly meant for charity.

Arroyo is currently under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center while Morato is confined at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City after an operation.

Taruc left the country on July 19 on board a Cathay Pacific flight and has not returned to the country.

Valencia and Aguas turned themselves in at the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group office on Oct. 4 and are now detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

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Tags: Arroyo administration , CIF , confidential intelligence funds , corruption , PCSO , Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office , Rosario Uriarte

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