PCSO plun­der case hits dead end: ‘Miss­ing link’ walks

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - NEWS - By Vince F. Nonato @VinceNona­toINQ

The plun­der case filed against for­mer Pres­i­dent Glo­ria Ma­ca­pa­gal-Ar­royo and sev­eral oth­ers in con­nec­tion with the P365.99mil­lion Philip­pine Char­ity Sweep­stakes Of­fice (PCSO) in- tel­li­gence fund mess has of­fi­cially hit a dead end.

In an 11-page de­ci­sion dated May 11, the Sandi­gan­bayan ac­quit­ted for­mer PCSO gen­eral man­ager Rosario Uri­arte—the case’s last re­main­ing de­fen­dant and sup­posed “miss­ing link”— for in­suf­fi­ciency of the Om- buds­man’s ev­i­dence.

The anti­graft court cited the Supreme Court’s July 19, 2016, de­ci­sion ac­quit­ting Ar­royo of plun­der, also for lack of ev­i­dence.

It also noted that the high court de­ci­sion al­ready ex­on­er­ated Uri­arte, even though she was then a fugi­tive who could not de­fend her­self at the time.

An ailing Uri­arte re­turned to the coun­try on Nov. 16, 2016.

No new ev­i­dence

“The pros­e­cu­tion has not ad­duced any new or com­pelling ev­i­dence to war­rant a find­ing different from what has al­ready been ren­dered by the Supreme Court,” the Sandi­gan­bayan said.

“Thus, as the high tri­bunal cat­e­gor­i­cally cleared Uri­arte of cul­pa­bil­ity from the in­stant charge of plun­der, it be­hooves this court to ac­quit her,” it added.

The de­ci­sion was penned by As­so­ciate Jus­tice Efren N. de la Cruz and con­curred in by As­so­ciate Jus­tices Geral­dine Faith A. Econg and Edgardo M. Cal­dona.

The Om­buds­man sought to hold Uri­arte li­able for re­quest­ing the trans­fer of PCSO funds to the con­fi­den­tial in­tel­li­gence funds, which could be ac­cessed with min­i­mal re­stric­tions.

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