MANILA, Philippines – Former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Manuel "Manoling" Morato will remain under hospital arrest while 2 other co-accused will remain under police custody after the Sandiganbayan deferred ruling on their petition for bail.
The Sandiganbayan First Division instead ordered the prosecution to present witnesses and evidence for the court to determine if there is justifiable cause to grant temporary liberty to Morato, ex-PCSO chairman Sergio Valencia and ex-PCSO assistant manager for finance Benigno Aguas in their plunder case.
The court set a 10-day hearing for the bail petition alone that will start on October 29, 2012 and end on February 1. 2013. By then the justices will decide on whether to allow bail for accused Aguas, Valencia and Morato.
It is expected that until February, Aguas and Valencia will stay at the PNP custodial center while Morato will be detained temporarily at the St. Luke's Medical Center while motion for his hospital arrest is pending in court.
Morato's legal counsel, Atty. Dennis Manicad, said the 79-year-old Morato will undergo a triple bypass operation on Monday after his angiogram procedure found Morato to have been suffering from severe coronary artery disease, on top of his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
"His arteries are completely blocked,” he said.
The lawyer said he is not sure whether his client can attend the arraignment scheduled on October 29.
For purposes of bail hearing, the prosecution is set to present 18 witnesses to prove that the evidence against the accused is strong enough to place them under continued detention.
Defense lawyers argued that the burden of proof is in the hands of the prosecutors to prove why liberty should not be granted.
Lead prosecutor Atty Diosdado Calonge said their documents involving the alleged misuse of P366 million in PCSO funds is enough.
He said their witnesses can identify with authority the documents and the sequence of events that led to the alleged illegal transfer of PCSO operational funds to questionable intelligence funds.