Court grants bail to Arroyo's co-accused in plunder case
MANILA, Philippines - The Sandiganbayan granted the bail petitions of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) officials Sergio Valencia, Manuel "Manoling" Morato, and Raymundo Roquero in the plunder case accusing them of conspiring with former President Gloria Arroyo to convert P366 million operating funds into confidential intelligence funds.
There is still no ruling on the similar bail petitions filed by Arroyo and former PCSO assistant manager for finance Benigno Aguas. (READ: Arroyo, 9 others charged with plunder and Arroyo seeks bail in plunder case)
Valencia served as PCSO chairman. Morato and Roquero were former directors of PCSO.
Plunder is a non-bailable offense but the lawyers argued that their clients are entitled to bail because the prosecution failed to present evidence to sustain the allegations.
Arroyo was granted bail in the electoral sabotage case earlier filed against her. It's also a non-bailable case but the court allowed her to post bail in July 2012 because the "required quantum of proof" was not established.
Arroyo was arrested 3 months later over the plunder case. Inspite of her detention and inability to campaign, Arroyo won a second term as representative of the 2nd district of Pampanga.
The prosecution earlier presented PCSCO board of directors member Maria Aletta Tolentino to testify that financial audits showed "violations of internal audit rules" in the PCSCO during Arroyo's presidency.
Among the irregularities she mentioned included excessive disbursements of confidential and intelligence funds, merging of internal audits within PCSO, and funds meant for the PCSO's Prize Fund that were maintained in the Main Fund.
Tolentino also testified that financial statements indicate the PCSO was operating on deficits.
Defense lawyers argued that the prosecution's evidence did not support any of the 3 charges in the plunder case that accused Morato, Valencia and Aguas of diverting funds and converting proceeds, raiding public treasury for their benefit, and taking advantage of their positions. - Rappler.com