Prosecution vs Gloria Arroyo runs out of witnesses over PCSO funds mess
MANILA, Pilippines – The prosecution against former President Gloria Arroyo said it had run out of witnesses to testify over the alleged misuse of funds in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
The move by the special prosecutors led by Hazel Militante surprised Arroyo’s camp as the prosecution had said they have six to ten more witnesses against Arroyo.
“Just two weeks ago, the prosecution told the court that they intended to present six to 10 more witnesses. All of a sudden, they have no more witnesses to present, which is just as well,” Arroyo’s legal counsel Laurence Arroyo said. They are not related.
The prosecution had presented 14 witnesses but none of them directly linked Arroyo to the illegal disbursement of funds.
Arroyo and former PCSO officials Rosario Uriarte, Chairman Sergio Valencia, Directors Manuel Morato, Raymundo Roquero, Fatima Valdes, Jose Taruc, Villar and Commisson on Audit official Nilda Plaras were charged of plunder for allegedly conspiring to divert for personal gain at least P366 million in intelligence funds for the PCSO from 2008 to 2010.
Arroyo’s lawyer said the prosecution’ move could mean they would rest the case and let the defense make the manifestation.
The prosecution had been warned by the anti-graft court that their failure to present witnesses could mean Arroyo might be granted bail. The Sandiganbayan has consistently rejected Arroyo’s plea for bail.
Arroyo’s lawyer said they would file a demurrer to evidence, which submits the case for judgement based only on the prosecutions’ evidence that were supposedly not enough to warrant a conviction.
He also noted that almost all of Arroyo’s alleged co-conspirators have been granted bail, except for two.
“This seriously undermines the prosecution’s conspiracy theory,” he said.
Valencia, Morato, Roquero, Taruc and Villar were all granted bail.
Valdes remains at large.
Villar, who was arrested, is waiting for the decision for his bail petition while Plaras was able to secure an injunction from the Supreme Court.
Arroyo and Aguas are under detention after their bail petitions were denied.
The former president and now Pampanga representative is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center.