Witness links Arroyo to PCSO fund mess

Posted at 10/30/2012 9:56 PM | Updated as of 10/31/2012 11:35 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The chair of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Audit Committee on Tuesday implicated former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the controversial alleged misuse of the P366 million operational funds of the charity agency.

In her testimony before the justices of the Sandiganbayan's First Division, Atty. Ma. Aleta Tolentino said there were at least 7 instances where the former President approved the requests of then PCSO Chairman Rosario Uriarte for additional intelligence funds for the agency.

The requests, Tolentino testified, were also approved by the Board of Directors of PCSO prior to sending the said requests to Malacañang.

The prosecution showed Tolentino the 7 letter of requests from 2008 to 2010 with the approval of Arroyo and she verified it as true.

Lead prosecutor Diosdado Calonge also pointed out through Tolentino’s testimony that "there were clear irregularities and violation of law in the said requests for additional intelligence funds."

Calonge says the amount involved were always above the P10 million allowable intelligence funds under the PCSO charter.

The 7 requests more or less constitute the P366 million, he says.

"They were approved by the former President," Calonge said. "They were also approved by the past board of directors."

During the testimony, Tolentino said in 2008, the disbursement on record for PCSO confidential intelligence funds amounted to about P38 million, while in 2010, the disbursement reached as high as P208 million.

Calonge says this was made possible by the former management of PCSO by using the scheme of co-mingling funds.

By transferring funds from one purpose to another, the PCSO officials were able to withdraw the money without being questioned.

But defense lawyer Atty. Paul Lentejas says they were continually objecting to the testimony of Tolentino since her statements are not part of the actual charges.

During the hearing, the defense lawyers also at some point questioned the competency of Tolentino to analyze the records books of the Commission on Audit which was the basis for all the figures that came out in the hearing.

“She was harping on co-mingled funds which are not part of the charges,” Lentejas said.

They hope to bring out the truth when it’s their turn to cross examination the witness after the prosecution has laid out their evidences.