(Posted 6:49 pm | Saturday, July 9th, 2011)
MANILA, Philippines—Two Bayan Muna party-list representatives are to file plunder charges next week against ex-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office general manager Rosario Uriarte over the alleged misuse of the agency’s intelligence funds.
Representatives Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares said they will file the complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday.
They said the admissions on the alleged misuse of the intelligence funds by Uriarte during a recent Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing and documents showing Arroyo approved of it constituted plunder.
“While Uriarte, it may seem, is just an errand girl she is still liable to plunder charges. She was used by Gloria to rob the Filipino people of their money,” Casiño said.
Colmenares said that Uriarte “practically hanged herself in the Senate, and implicated her former boss in the process.
“She handed the criminal elements of malversation in a silver platter through her fatal admissions: that President Arroyo approved, upon Uriarte’s request, the realignment of media funds to intelligence funds, that said funds were used for purposes other than intelligence work, and that President Arroyo knew that these funds were used for items such as blood money, relief work and yet continued approving the said diversion of funds year after year,” Colmenares said.
He said the criminal case will be based on the intent of Uriarte and Arroyo, who is now a member of the House of Representatives, to realign the funds to bypass restrictive procedures for the release and disbursement of funds, and worse, to avoid the accounting and liquidation procedures of COA.
Such actions, he said, violated Article 217 and Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code and Republic Act 1060 on malversation of public funds which could also constitute plunder as the amount involved was above P50 million.
Manila Representative Amado Bagatsing, chair of the House committee on games and amusement which is also scheduled to look into the alleged misuse of PCSO funds, said the filing of plunder charges against Arroyo and Uriarte either before the courts or his committee would give them a chance to clear their name.
“A venue for GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) to prove them wrong… and let the chips fall where they may,” Bagatsing said of the impending plunder charge.
Five other party-list representatives joined Casiño and Colmenares in filing a resolution seeking an investigation into the use of intelligence funds of government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and former Commission on Audit Chairman Reynaldo Villar.
The five were Luviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana de Jesus of Gabriela Women’s Party, Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, Antonio Tinio of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, and Raymond Palatino of Kabataan.
Colmenares questioned Villar’s approval of the liquidation report of the PCSO intelligence funds considering that they were spent on non-intelligence items.
“I think, we will need to investigate the former chairman now that the persistent anomalies and misuse of intelligence funds in various agencies have been hiding behind the ‘credit advice’ given by the COA chairman. COA cannot just continue giving clean bill of health to these blatant irregularities,” he said.
Colmenares said that since Villar found nothing irregular in the liquidation report of Uriarte, Congress should find out from him which other GOCCs have similar liquidation reports.
“The use of intelligence funds by GOCCs like PCSO and other civilian agencies is highly questionable. Uriarte did not even know there is a need for an intelligence project proposal, much less an intelligence officer and handler. The misuse of hundreds of millions of pesos in the midst of poverty of the people is totally outrageous,” Colmenares said.
The following agencies, among others, have intelligence funds: DENR (P15 million), DOTC (P18.6 million), DOJ (P200 million), Department of Finance (P15 million), Ombudsman (3 million) and even the Supreme Court (P2 million).