MANILA - Former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board director Manuel “Manoling” Morato has asked the Sandiganbayan to release him on bail in connection with his alleged hand in the plunder of P366 million of PCSO funds.
In a 12-page plea filed late Monday, lawyer Dante Diaz said the government’s evidence against Morato is “almost nil or at the very least, weak.”
He said Morato’s actions during his PCSO stint was “done in good faith in the ordinary course of PCSO business.” He said Morato simply signed resolutions and ratified transfers of funds based on directives of higher officials.
Former President Gloria Arroyo is the main respondent in the case. She was set to be arraigned last October 5, but was advised against attending since she was suffering from various health problems.
"The accused in a criminal case for a capital offense is constitutionally entitled to bail when the evidence of guilt is not strong. Once it is determined that the evidence is not strong, bail becomes a matter of right," Diaz said.
He also insisted Morato was never given a chance to see the Ombudsman’s rulings.
Morato has COPD
Diaz also said the Sandiganbayan should recognize Morato’s age as a mitigating circumstance.
He said Morato, who is turning 79 on November 7, is already blind in one eye and has been suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) for the past three years.
He said Morato is willing to comply with reasonable conditions that the Sandiganbayan may impose upon setting his temporary release. He said his client is not a flight risk because he values the name of his late father, Tomas B. Morato, the first mayor of Quezon City.