Ex-PCSO GM invokes right to remain silent

Posted at 07/14/11 9:48 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Rosario Uriarte on Thursday invoked her right to remain silent in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry on the PCSO fund mess.

Uriarte, who was in tears at the start of hearing, said she attended the Senate inquiry with a clear conscience and the belief that the truth would set her free.

However, she said her statements in a previous hearing have been used in the plunder complaint filed by Bayan Muna party-list representatives against her and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

She said that after last week's hearings, her elderly parents have fallen ill to the point where her father vomits uncontrollably. She said that even her own family has become the subject of public ridicule.

"The indictment for a serious crime for which there is no bail has become unbearable," she told senators.

"I invoke my constitutional right to remain silent...It is not not fair to provide my persecutors...further statements to prosecute me. Humihiling po ako sa inyo ng pag-unawa. Maawa kayo sa aking pamilya kahit hindi na sa akin," she added.

For his part, Sen. Franklin Drilon acknowledged Uriarte's right against self-incrimination but said she cannot claim blanket authority on all questions asked of her.

He said Uriarte could ask her lawyer Raul Lambino if her answers to the senators' questions could incriminate her.

Uriarte earlier admitted that she requested P160 million in intelligence funds for the PCSO in 2010, an election year.

Senators have noted that the PCSO's intelligence fund, which was personally approved by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was larger than the combined intelligence funds of the Department of National Defense and Armed Forces of the Philippines.