MANILA, Philippines - If he had his way, Senator Teofisto Guingona III would want former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to appear before the probe on the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) fund mess.
The issue of inter-parliamentary courtesy is the only one keeping the Blue Ribbon Committee from issuing subpoena on Arroyo, he said.
In an interview with ANC, Guingona said “we can subpoena her…but there are institutional sensitivities, but I think she should be called.”
He advised Arroyo to instead make public her supposed role in the matter. “If I were her, I would go out in public. Or the Ombudsman can subpoena her.”
The Office of the Ombudsman announced last week it would investigate allegations that Arroyo personally approved some P150 million intelligence funds for PCSO ahead of the 2010 elections.
Guingona said Arroyo's staff had already called the committee to ask for copies of the transcripts of last week’s hearings.
The committee will resume the hearings on Wednesday, with 6 of the 7 bishops alleged to have received luxury cars from PCSO in attendance.
He said the past and present leadership of the PCSO have also been called to attend and shed light on the liquidation process that the agency has been practicing in the past.
Former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte last week said they used the intelligence funds to crush the illegal numbers game jueteng . The documents pertaining to the project were eventually submitted directly to Arroyo, she said.
Guingona also clarified he is not calling for the abolition of the PCSO. He said he just wants reforms made in the charter.
Laws encompassing the PCSO have muddled its real role in the country, he added.
“There have been laws passed [mandating it] to give [outside] charity,” he said. This includes allocation of revenues to the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp., National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, National Endowment Fund for Children’s Television, etc.
“They have so much money that the purpose for which they have been established has been diffused and muddled through the years,” he added.