Palace backs PCSO chief on exposé

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 28 2011 03:48 PM | Updated as of Jun 29 2011 06:42 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang stood by Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Chairman Margie Juico’s revelations of anomalies in her agency during the previous administration.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said: “It’s a recognition of anomalies …We believe that PCSO has evidence to warrant such a finding of irregularities in the past PCSO administration. If there is evidence, the PCSO will prepare and file cases. With respect to other claims made by [former PCSO chief Manoling] Morato, Chairman Juico will be in a better position to answer that.”

Lacierda said the revelations at the PCSO had nothing to do with former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s criticisms of President Aquino last week.

“I’m not sure if there was any coincidence on the release of PCSO with respect to the claims of former president. What I know for a fact was Joel Villanueva came out with statement in response to statement of former president with regards to nobody home.”

The PCSO may file charges against former President Gloria Arroyo and some former officials of the agency for allegedly approving questionable transactions involving millions of pesos.

Last January 2010, former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte wrote Arroyo asking that half of the P760-million public relations budget of the agency be realloted for an intelligence fund.

Uriarte wrote they needed at least P150 million for the intel fund, which would be used to deploy confidential agents that will guard the small town lottery or STL and catch fixers, as well as those who sell donated machines.

Arroyo approved the creation of the intel fund, writing an "OK" on the letter request.

But PCSO board auditor Aleta Tolentino said this is not allowed under law.

Lacierda confirmed Juico met with Aquino last week but they did not discuss the case.

“The meeting with the PCSO chairman delved primarily with the loterya ng bayan. On aspect of filing of charges, I don’t believe that was taken up. The only thing taken up was case filed vs Mr. Manuel Garcia. That's been filed with Department of Justice or Ombudsman meeting last week.”

Lacierda declined to answer when asked about allegations the past PCSO administration favored media allies of the previous administration.