Arroyo co-accused in PCSO case seeks house arrest
Former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) general manager Rosario Uriarte has asked the Sandiganbayan to place her under house arrest for the non-bailable charge of plunder.
Uriarte, the so-called “missing link” in the plunder case of former President Gloria Arroyo over the misuse of P366 million PCSO intelligence funds earlier dismissed by the Supreme Court, arrived in the country on Nov. 16 and was arraigned on Nov. 23 to face her plunder charge.
In her urgent motion, Uriarte pleaded the Sandiganbayan to place her under house arrest at her residence in Barangay Paligsahan, Quezon City for six to 10 months or during the period she would undergo chemotherapy or surgery.
She said she was diagnosed by her doctor with tumor in her breast and she asked for house confinement due to “medical and humanitarian considerations.”
She added that her detention cell at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) would not allow her to take adequate rest after chemotherapy and would expose her to infection.
Uriarte said her home is close to St. Luke’s Medical Center, which would allow her to be rushed to the hospital in case of complications.
“Considering that accused Uriarte’s doctors have also warned her of the potential side effects of chemotherapy… she will be able to more properly and comfortably deal with said side effects at home where she can be attended to by family,” her motion read.
Uriarte also asked the court to grant her bail, citing the Supreme Court decision saying the prosecution failed to prove conspiracy among Uriarte, Arroyo and PCSO budget officer Benigno Aguas to amass ill-gotten wealth.
“(I)t is therefore clear that there is no evidence of guilt, much less strong evidence of guilt, on the part of accused Uriarte,” her motion read.
Uriarte was one of the two who surfaced after the Supreme Court dismissed the plunder case of Arroyo and Aguas for lack of evidence and released the two from detention.
Ma. Fatima Valdez, a PCSO board member, also surfaced and was arraigned on Oct. 27 for plunder.
Both Uriarte and Valdez entered a not guilty plea.
Valdez also pleaded to the Sandiganbayan that she be placed under hospital detention at the Makati Medical Center under the custody of the NBI.
Valdez said she has not been feeling well since she turned herself over to the NBI after arriving in the country on Oct. 11.
She said she underwent open heart surgery for a post aortic valve replacement and that she has a simultaneous dual chamber pacemaker.
The plunder cases of the following PCSO officials were earlier dismissed by the Sandiganbayan: board officials Manuel Morato, Raymundo Roquero, Jose Taruc V, and former Commission on Audit head Reynaldo Villar.
Former PCSO board chairman Sergio Valencia’s plunder charge was downgraded to malversation.
Arroyo walked free from four years of hospital detention last July after the Supreme Court dismissed Arroyo’s plunder case for insufficiency of evidence.
The plunder charge filed against Arroyo involved diverting P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office intelligence funds intended for charity use for her personal gain during her term as President from 2008 to 2010.
The high court said Arroyo’s approval of the P366 million intelligence fund releases was only ministerial and did not constitute an “overt act” to commit plunder. JE/rga