2 Arroyo co-accused plead 'not guilty' to plunder
MANILA, Philippines - Former Philippine Charity Sweeptakes Office (PCSO) chairman Sergio Valencia and Assistant General Manager for finance Benigno Aguas both pleaded "not guilty" on Monday, October 15, to a plunder charge in connection with the alleged misuse of the charity funds during the administration of President Gloria Arroyo.
The two former PCSO high-ranking officials appeared before the Sandiganbayan First Division Monday morning, October 15. Preliminary conference is scheduled on October 29.
Valencia and Aguas surrendered on the same night that the warrants of arrest were issued against them on October 4, Thursday.
The P366-M plunder case filed against Mrs Arroyo by the Ombudsman is in connection with the alleged misuse by the Arroyo administration of PCSO's intelligence funds while she was still president.
Arroyo, Morato arraignment deferred
Arroyo's arraignment was deferred due to health considerations. Government hospital Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) director said it's "risky" for her to go to the court.
The arraignment of Arroyo, now Pampanga Representative, and another co-accused, former PCSO board member Manuel Morato, was reset to October 29. But Arroyo lawyer Anacleto Diaz is asking for more time to seek remedy from the Supreme Court.
Morato is at the St Lukes hospital in Quezon City. His lawyer submitted a medical report that says he needs two weeks to finish his angiogram and possible angioplasty, a heart procedure.
Cancel Uriarte's passport
The prosecution on Monday also asked the court to cancel the passports of former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte and former PCSO board members Jose Taruc and Ma Fatima Valdez.
Lead prosecutor Diosdao Calonge said he has a "reliable source" who said that the 3 had "sneaked out of the country." The court asked him to formalize his motion.
The plunder case was based on two separate complaints – one dated Jul 25, 2011 filed by Jaime Regalario, Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and Danilo Lim, for plunder, malversation and violation of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019; and another complaint dated Nov 29, 2011 by the PCSO itself represented by Eduardo Araullo, for plunder and violation of RA 3019.
Aside from Arroyo, Valencia, Aguas, Morato, Uriarte, Valdez, and Taruc, other co-cassued are the following: former PCSO director Raymund Roquero, former Commission on Audit chair Reynaldo Villar, and former COA officer Nilda Plaras. - Rappler.com