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GMA, Uriarte may be liable for malversation

By Office of Senator Chiz Escudero
July 7, 2011

PASAY CITY  –  Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former Philippine Charity Sweepstake Office (PCSO) general manager Rosario Uriarte may find themselves liable for malversation for using the agency’s intelligence funds for other purposes.

In today’s Senate hearing on PCSO fund mess, Uriarte admitted to dipping her hands into the intelligence funds of the charity agency to pay for “blood money” of incarcerated overseas Filipino workers as well as cover expenses for relief operations during calamities.

Escudero, who was surprised at the way the PCSO’s intelligence funds were approved and disbursed without regard to the proper procedure, said Uriarte’s admission to misappropriating the agency’s intelligence funds could be used as basis for filing malversation charges against her.

“Under oath at the Senate, she readily admitted to using the intelligence fund to offset other requests for funding like blood money and relief operations. And under oath, she also said that former President Arroyo was knowledgeable and approved all of these transactions. No matter how noble the intentions were, these still do not justify the misappropriation of the funds intended for what they claimed to be for intelligence operations,” Escudero pointed out.

The senator said the approval itself of an intelligence funds for a charity institution is already suspect given the fact that the military intelligence funds pale in comparison to the amount the PCSO received at that time.

Uriarte told the Senate panel that she was able to get approval for the release of the intelligence funds by personally handing the requests to the former president, thus avoiding the lengthy bureaucratic process.

The former PCSO executive said they have appropriated intelligence funds for the agency for the roll out of the state-approved small town lottery (STL) in a bid to stamp out illegal numbers game operations in the country.

Under heavy questioning by senators, Uriarte failed to present a solid program and list of expenditures to justify the appropriation of intelligence funds.

Uriarte, however, admitted that part of the funds for intelligence operations was spent for relief operations and “blood money” donations with the full knowledge of the former president.

Escudero said that under the law, any public officer who misuses or misappropriates public funds is guilty of malversation and could face life imprisonment under the Revised Penal Code.

Number 4 of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code states that “the penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium and maximum periods, if the amount involved is more than 12,000 pesos but is less than 22,000 pesos. If the amount exceeds the latter, the penalty shall be reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua.”