Ex-COA chair Villar arrested

Posted at 04/24/14 7:39 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) - One of the co-accused in the plunder case involving the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds during the Arroyo administration has been arrested, police said.


Former Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Reynaldo Villar was arrested by operatives of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) at Washington Square in Merville Park, Paranaque around 4 p.m. Thursday, PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac told radio DZMM.


The arrest warrant against Villar and 8 others, including the now-detained former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was issued by the Sandiganbayan First Division in 2012.


Plunder is a non-bailable offense. It carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.


Sindac told dzMM that they will bring Villar to the Sandiganbayan and wait for further instructions on where he will be detained.


"After the normal investigative processes, diretso na siya sa kulungan," he said.


CIDG chief director Benjamin Magalong said that prior to his arrest, Villar had been under surveillance for three weeks.


Magalong said Villar was surprised but did not resist arrest.


"There was no resistance, no violent reaction on the part of Mr. Villar. He voluntarily turned himself in to arresting officers," Magalong said.


Magalong also said that during Villar’s 3-week surveillance, he has was "very mobile."


"He was going around, visiting friends and meeting people all over Metro Manila. There was nothing high-profile in his lifestyle. Low key and casual, nothing extravagant. Normal lang siya," he noted.


Magalong said Villar, who was taken to the CIDG headquarters, will be taken to court on Friday morning.


"We will be presenting him to court tomorrow (Friday). The court will decide where he will be detained," he said. Magalong said he may likely be detained in Camp Crame.


Sindac, meanwhile, added they are still looking for others named in the warrant who have not been arrested.


Those who were on the warrant included former PCSO chairman Sergio Valencia, former PCSO vice chairman and general manager Rosario Uriarte, members of the PCSO board of directors Manuel Morato, Jose Taruc V, Raymundo Roquero, and Ma. Fatima Valdes, former PCSO budgets and accounts manager Benigno Aguas, and former head of COA's intelligence/confidential fund audit unit Nilda Plaras.


Some of them have been arrested and allowed to post bail by the Sandiganbayan, while others remain at large. - with a report from dzMM