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Ex-PCSO exec seeks bail on house arrest

/ 05:24 AM December 21, 2016

A coaccused in the plunder case of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has asked the Sandiganbayan to grant her bail while undergoing therapy for her tumors.

In her 15-page motion on Dec. 15, former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) general manager Rosario Uriarte cited the precedent set by the Supreme Court’s controversial 2015 ruling in favor of then 91-year-old Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

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Alternatively, Uriarte asked the antigraft court’s First Division to place her under house arrest at her residence in Barangay Paligsahan, Quezon City, for 10 months while undergoing treatment and recovering from her condition. In requesting so, she cited “medical and humanitarian considerations.”

Uriarte, the so-called “missing link” in the case of the misuse of P366-million in PCSO confidential intelligence funds, had only arrived in the country on Nov. 16 and was arraigned on Nov. 23. This was four months after the Supreme Court granted Arroyo’s demurrer to the plunder case and dismissed it for lack of evidence.

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She told the court that a recent examination at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City confirmed that she had a 1.3-centimeter tumor in her right breast and a one-centimeter tumor in her right axillary mass (the area around the armpit).

She said her detention quarters at the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila will not allow her to “take adequate time to rest, have a reasonable amount of sleep and good nutritional support.” She also said the NBI’s premises would possibly expose her to infection from germs.

Not only did Uriarte cite humanitarian considerations, she also asked to be able to post bail for an otherwise nonbailable offense because “there exists no evidence, much less strong evidence, of guilt on her part.”

She pointed out that when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Arroyo and former PCSO budget and accounts manager Benigno Aguas in July, its decision categorically declared that “the prosecution did not properly allege and prove the existence of conspiracy among GMA, Aguas and Uriarte.”

“Consequently, it is most respectfully submitted that the Honorable Court may grant her bail immediately,” Uriarte told the Sandiganbayan.

Uriarte was one of two coaccused in the PCSO funds case who have managed to evade arrest for the past four years, only to resurface in the recent months in the aftermath of Arroyo’s legal victory.

The other defendant was PCSO board member Ma. Fatima Valdez, who surrendered to the NBI on Oct. 11 upon her return from New Zealand. Seated on a wheelchair during her arraignment on Oct. 27, Valdez has a history of heart ailments.

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The Sandiganbayan had earlier dismissed the plunder cases of former PCSO board officials Manuel Morato, Raymundo Roquero and Jose Taruc V, as well as former Commission on Audit head Reynaldo Villar.

Meanwhile, the plunder charge against former PCSO board chair Sergio Valencia was downgraded to malversation and is still pending in court.

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TAGS: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, PCSO, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Rosario Uriarte, Supreme Court, therapy, tumors
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