Arroyo co-accused in PCSO fund mess allowed to post bail

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Monday, March 31, 2014

THE anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Monday allowed another co-accused of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the connection with the state lottery fund scam to post bail for his temporary liberty.

In a decision signed by Sandiganbayan First Division Presiding Justice Efren dela Cruz, and Justices Rodolfo Ponferrada and Rafael Lagos, former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) director Jose Taruc V was allowed by the court to post a P1-million bail since the evidence against him are not enough to warrant his stay in detention.

"Having ruled that the evidence presented by the prosecution against (Sergio) Valencia, (Manuel) Morato and (Raymundo) Roquero in connection with their respective petitions for bail does not show evident proof of their guilt, that same ruling similarly applies to accused Taruc V considering that, as already mentioned, all of them are being charged for the very same acts they did as directors of the PCSO. Hence, having allowed Valencia, Morato and Roquero to post bail, like them, Taruc V should likewise be allowed to post bail," the Court said.

Taruc turned himself in to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Camp Crame, Quezon City last March 17 where he was detained later at the PNP Custodial Center.

On March 20, Taruc entered a not guilty plea during his arraignment as he dismissed rumors that he will turn state witness against the former chief executive.

Aside from Arroyo and Taruc, other co-defendants in the case were former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte, former PCSO chairpersons Valencia and Morato; and former directors Roquero and Ma. Fatima A. S. Valdes; former budget and accounts manager Benigno Aguas; former Commission on Audit (COA) chairman Reynaldo Villar and former COA-Intelligence Fund Unit head Nilda Plaras.

Uriarte and Valdes remain at large.

Arroyo and others were charged with plunder in connection with the alleged conspiracy in defrauding the government of P366-million through unlawful transfer of confidential and intelligence funds of PCSO from January 2008 to June 2010.

Like Taruc, Valencia, Morato, and Roquero were already out on bail while the former president and current Pampanga Representative is now under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center while Plaras was not arrested upon Supreme Court order after she questioned the basis of her inclusion in the plunder charge.

Plunder, a capital offense, is punishable by life imprisonment hence non-bailable and it likewise entails forfeiture of defendants' assets it they are found guilty of the crime. (Sunnex)

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