Taruc surrenders on PCSO plunder charge

Posted at 03/17/2014 10:11 PM | Updated as of 03/17/2014 11:30 PM

MANILA - A former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member who is among former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's co-accused in a P366-million plunder case surrendered Monday morning, the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said.

CIDG head Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong said Jose Taruc V surrendered around 5:30 a.m.

"Sinundo ko siya sa bandang Greenhills area," he said.

He said Taruc sent surrender feelers. "Nung isang araw pa. Last week, last week pa. Tapos kinonfirm kahapon, nung isang araw na talagang magsusurrender siya."

The Bureau of Immigration earlier said Taruc left the country last July 19, 2012, a week ahead of a hold departure order (HDO) issued by the anti-graft court against him and the other accused.

Magalong said Taruc fled to another country but declined to give more details. "Nagtago siya, oo, sa ibang bansa. Pero ayaw na rin niyang gaanong magsalita."

He said Taruc had a lawyer with him when he surrendered to police.

Although plunder is a non-bailable offense, Magalong said the possibility of Taruc posting bail might have encouraged him to finally surface. "Siguro 'yun 'yung isa sa mga reasons kung bakit naisip na niya sigurong sumuko na. Kasi nakikita na niya na may chansa na rin siyang makapag-bail."

"Siguro naisip lang niya na kailangan na rin niyang kuwan... pagod na rin siyang kakatakbo, kakatago," Magalong said.

The Sandiganbayan failed to issue a commitment order Monday that will decide where Taruc will be detained.

Magalong expects the anti-graft court to issue the order Tuesday.

Taruc, who declined a media interview, will spend the night in a CIDG detention cell, police said.

He earlier asked the Supreme Court (SC) to reverse the finding of probable cause against him for the crime of plunder in connection with the alleged misuse in PCSO funds, and nullify the warrant for his arrest.

In a 41-page petition for certiorari and prohibition, Taruc alleged that the Office of the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion in "ignoring its factual findings that petitioner (Taruc) did not benefit the least from the public funds in question." - reports from Edwin Sevidal and Zhander Cayabyab, dzMM