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Ex-PCSO GM Uriarte seeks court permission for medical exam

MANILA, Philippines – Former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) general manager Rosario Uriarte one of three remaining defendants in the P366-million plunder case filed in 2012 against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and PCSO officials – has asked the Sandiganbayan for permission to undergo a medical examination.

Uriarte told the anti-graft court's 1st Division that she "has been experiencing, and continues to experience, several physical difficulties and ailments" even before her voluntary surrender to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) last November 16.

"Accused Uriarte became aware of a lump in her breast which has been growing in size and which, to her limited knowledge, she feared may be a tumor," defense lawyers Benjamin Santos and Ray Montri Santos said in a motion dated November 21.

According to Uriarte, NBI medico-legal officer Lorena Chua confirmed she had a mass in her right breast. (READ: Drilon urges Ombudsman: Find ex-PCSO official vs Arroyo)

Uriarte's own doctor George Firmalino also conducted a separate examination and confirmed the presence of a mass.

Firmalino also recommended that Uriarte be admitted to a hospital to undergo a biopsy "as soon as possible." A copy of the medical certificate issued by Firmalino was attached to Uriarte's motion.

Eluded arrest in 2012

Uriarte eluded arrest after her indictment for plunder in July 2012.

She reportedly left the Philippines before the Sandiganbayan issued arrest warrants against her, Arroyo, former PCSO Board chairman Sergio Valencia, members of the Board of Directors, former Commission on Audit (COA) chairman Reynaldo Villar, and COA director Nilda Plaras.  

While at large, Uriarte said she had no opportunity to have any medical professional examine her.

"Pursuant to these recommendations, she finds the need to immediately proceed to a hospital to undergo medical evaluation and biopsy, so that she may sooner have her medical issues, specifically her suspected tumor, attended to by medical professionals, as recommended by the aforementioned examining physicians," her lawyers said.

In a resolution dated April 7, 2015, the Sandiganbayan declared that Uriarte was the principal beneficiary of the P366 million in PCSO funds, saying Arroyo was only one of her co-conspirators.

In a ruling issued last July 19, however, the Supreme Court acquitted Arroyo due to insufficient evidence and set her free. – Rappler.com