Sandiganbayan issues HDO vs Arroyo, 9 others

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 25 2012 09:09 AM | Updated as of Jul 25 2012 09:40 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Sandiganbayan issued a hold departure order against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and 9 others accused of plunder.

The order was in connection with the alleged misuse of some P365-million worth of funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) from 2007 to 2010.

This is the third hold departure order against Arroyo.

Aside from Arroyo, the Sandiganbayan included the following people in hold departure order:

- Sergio Valencia, former PCSO Chairperson
- Rosario Uriarte, former PCSO General Manager
- Manuel Morato, former PCSO Board Member
- Jose Taruc, former PCSO Board Member
- Raymundo Roquero, former PCSO Board Member
- Ma. Fatima Valdes, former PCSO Board Member
- Benigno Aguas, former PCSO Budget Officer
- Reynaldo Villar, former COA Chairperson
- Nilda Plaras, former COA Intelligence Officer

The former president denied amassing the funds, and said that the Aquino government only wants her to remain in detention.

The said respondents’ acts “form a pattern, not only of misuse and raid of PCSO’s CIF [confidential/intelligence funds] from 2008-2010, but also of illegal conveyance or disposition of cash advances disbursed therefrom, all the while taking advantage of their respective official functions."

The aggregate amount of P365,997,915 representing cash advances were supposedly disbursed from PCSO’s CIF in the names of Uriarte (P352,681,646) and Valencia (P13,316,269) from January 2008 to June 2010.

The case stemmed from two separate complaints filed by Jaime Regalario, Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and Danilo Lim, for plunder, malversation and violation of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019; and by the PCSO itself represented by Eduardo Araullo, for plunder and violation of RA 3019.

PCSO Director Aleta Tolentino earlier said COA officials were included for “conspiracy and connivance.”

The complaint accused the 10 of conspiring with one another” to “willfully, unlawfully and criminally amass…ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate amount or total value of P365,997,915.00".

It said the group diverted funds from the PCSO operating budget to its confidential/intelligence fund that could be accessed and withdrawn at any time with minimal restrictions. It accused the group of “raiding the public treasury” and “taking advantage of their respective official positions, authority, relationships, connections or influence in several instances to unjustly enrich themselves.” – with ANC; Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com