Lacson cites ‘preponderance of evidence’ vs Gloria Macapagal Arroyo | Inquirer News

Lacson cites ‘preponderance of evidence’ vs Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

By: - Reporter / @KatyYam
/ 02:52 AM July 19, 2011

The Senate blue ribbon committee has enough evidence to pin down former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the nonbailable offense of plunder, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Monday.

Lacson said there already existed a “preponderance of evidence” to charge Arroyo with “plunder or at the very least a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” after five hearings by the panel.


A lawyer for Arroyo said his client would face her accusers “in the proper forum and in the proper way.”

“If [they] can produce documents, then they should submit them in court instead of making allegations in media or spreading rumors,” Raul Lambino told reporters. “They’re just destroying the person without presenting concrete evidence.”


In an interview after Monday’s hearing, Lacson said documents collected by members of the blue ribbon committee tended to show Arroyo’s “imprudent” authorization of disbursements of the intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

The senator zeroed in on Arroyo’s move allowing former PCSO Vice Chair and General Manager Rosario Uriarte to release P150 million in intelligence funds in January 2010, four months from the elections.

P325M for intelligence

From the time Uriarte was officially appointed special disbursement officer of the PCSO in 2008, the agency released a total of P325 million in intelligence funds.

Arroyo was linked to the releases since her signature appeared in the letter requests that Uriarte had submitted to Malacañang. In some instances, Uriarte admitted bypassing the former President’s cordon and heading straight to Arroyo to get her signature.

“No one can say that everything is above board. How can that be when [Uriarte] cannot justify those huge disbursements during the hearings,” Lacson said in English and Filipino.

“In one intelligence project alone, the PCSO released P150 million and used up P138 million in six months,” he said.


Not on her own

Lacson was among those who grilled Uriarte upon the discovery of the P150-million disbursement a little less than four months before the May 2010 elections.

He took the former PCSO official to task for failing to identify her intelligence operators or explain the specific acts that were funded by the huge amount. Uriarte was also chastised for not properly documenting the entire intelligence operation.

Senators have aired suspicions that Uriarte could not have gotten away with the disbursements on her own.

Arroyo not talking

“So far, Gloria Arroyo is not explaining. She’s referring the case to her lawyers and the lawyers are referring it back to her. So where do we get the explanation?” Lacson asked.

“It is definite that the blue ribbon committee will come up not only with legislation to amend the (PCSO) charter but we will also recommend the filing of charges against her or refer [a complaint] to the Ombdusman because of the preponderance of evidence [in] the documents we have collected out of this exercise,” he said.

Asked what criminal case would be filed, Lacson answered “plunder” point-blank.

“Or at least a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices (Act). But we (senators) still have to talk as a committee to decide what action to take or which charges to file,” he said.

A normal process

Lambino said the former president could answer the allegations “properly before the courts, but not in a forum with media.”

Lambino, who also acts as Uriarte’s counsel in the hearings, said Arroyo’s involvement in the disbursement of PCSO funds was “part of the normal process … Everything is above board.”

He said that under the law, a government corporation like the PCSO could not release its intelligence funds “without the approval of the President.”

“So, there is nothing wrong in [her] participation in the approval of the release of intelligence funds,” Lambino said. “The [Commission on Audit] itself says it is pursuant to our rules. She can definitely justify her moves and present evidence to defend herself.”

Lambino said Arroyo had no plans to go abroad to elude justice. “Arroyo wants to attend all sessions of Congress … She has no plans to leave.”

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TAGS: Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, PCSO Vice Chair and General Manager Rosario Uriarte, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Plunder, Raul Lambino, Senator Panfilo Lacson
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