File charges, Palace dares ex-PCSO chief-A A +A
Sunday, July 10, 2011
MANILA -- Instead of going to the media with his accusations, former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairman Manuel “Manoling” Morato “should practice what he preaches” and file the appropriate charges in court, the Palace said on Saturday.
“Mr. Morato chose to ventilate claims against chairman (Margie) Juico in press conferences and briefings. He had ample time in the Senate to give his counter allegations but he did not do so,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview over government-run dzRB radio.
“He kept saying that he is ready to face them in court but is also fair that he extends the same courtesy to the present board,” she added.
Facing the media on Friday, Morato and other PCSO board members said that the financial report examined by the Commission on Audit (COA) in 2009 which was later found to contain fund disbursement irregularities were tampered.
The 2009 COA report prompted a Senate investigation on the alleged donation of luxury vehicles to bishops, ambulances to government officials, misuse of the PCSO’s intelligence funds, and the overpricing of advertisements.
“He (Morato) should practice what he preaches. Kung paulit-paulit niyang sinasabi (If he keeps on saying) to this current PCSO board na file the charges if they have the evidence, we could very well say the same for him,” Valte said.
Malacanang, meanwhile, said it will let the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman to decide on proposals for former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte to become a state witness in case plunder charges are filed against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Senator Franklin Drilon had said Uriarte may turn into a state witness after disclosing in a Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing that the PCSO’s intelligence funds were used for other purposes from 2008 to 2010.
Such fund releases were approved by then President Arroyo.
“I cannot say at the moment if it will be an option because that will be up to the prosecutors of the case. There are certain requirements before one can be considered a state witness; first, the person has to be least guilty and second, there should be no direct evidence to prove the case other than testimony of the person who is supposed to be a state witness,” Valte said.
The Office of the Ombudsman will launch its own probe on the allegations made in the Senate committee hearing on the misuse of PCSO’s intelligence funds. Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro had created a fact-finding panel to look into Uriarte’s testimonies.
The Bureau of Immigration on Friday placed Uriarte and former PCSO public relations manager Manuel Garcia on its watchlist to prevent her from leaving the country without travel clearance from Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
The Palace said such move is not an overreaction from the BI since the DOJ is only “being prudent” considering the gravity of the accusations against the two.
Valte said the mess over the PCSO’s donation of service utility vehicles (SUV) to some bishops will not stop the partnership between the government and the Catholic Church in assisting the country’s poor.
She said the partnership between the state and the church is not the issues but the utilization of PCSO’s funds.
On the other hand, San Fernando Archbishop Paciano Aniceto clarified Saturday that bishops are “just conduits” of donations extended by the PCSO.
“Our bishops and clergy are just conduits of these donations the Church receives from donors like PCSO. Doon sa mga Pajero ay wala akong alam diyan and I am not one of the recipients,” he said.
Bishops who received the questionable SUVs were Diocese of Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos; Zamboanga Archdiocesan Social Action Apostolate Archbishop Romulo Valles; Archdiocese of Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo; Diocese of Bangued, Abra Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian; Roman Catholic Prelate of Isabela, Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad; Apostolic Vicariate Bontoc Bishop Rodolfo Beltran; and Caritas Nueva Segovia (Ilocos Sur) Archbishop Ernesto Antolin Salgado. (Kathrina Alvarez/Jovi de Leon of Sun.Star Pampanga/Sunnex)