PCSO execs in intel scam now also cleared in junket case

Lian Buan
PCSO execs in intel scam now also cleared in junket case
Rosario Uriarte, Fatima Valdes, and Jose Taruc were all charged, and then later cleared, of plunder over the P365-million intelligence fund scam

MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Thursday, February 20, acquitted 3 former executives of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in a graft case involving an Australian junket given by a contractor.

The Sandiganbayan 6th Division promulgated its decision in open court on Thursday afternoon, declaring former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte and former directors Jose Taruc and Fatima Valdes not guilty of graft and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials.

Uriarte, Valdes, and Taruc were all charged of plunder alongside former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo over the P365-million intelligence fund scam.

Courtesy of a Supreme Court ponencia that acquitted Arroyo of plunder in 2016, all officials in the scam have been cleared. No court case over the scam exists today.

The 3 were charged in 2017 for accepting an all-expenses paid trip to Australia in 2010 as a gift from the TMA Group of Companies, which had a contract with the PCSO.

After the trip, TMA won a P42-billion contract to supply PCSO its thermal paper. 

The full copy of the decision was not available as of this posting.

Uriarte was said to be the missing link in the intel scam plunder case, but after the Supreme Court acquitted Arroyo, the Sandiganbayan had no choice but to acquit all.

In that landmark decision, former chief justice Lucas Bersamin introduced the principle of a main plunderer.

Not found in the plunder law before, the SC said the absence of a main plunderer means all respondents benefited equally. Divided among the 10 respondents, the P365 million became P36 million each, which is lower than the plunder threshold of P50 million. Read more about that decision here. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.