Sandiganbayan clears ex-PCSO GM Uriarte of plunder

FORMER President and now Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (left) with former PCSO general manager Uriarte. PDI image.

FORMER Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) general manager Rosario Uriarte has been cleared by the Sandiganbayan from the plunder charge filed against her over the alleged diversion of P366 million of PCSO funds.

The Sandiganbayan First Division agreed with an earlier ruling by the Supreme Court that there’s insufficient evidence to charge with plunder Uriarte and former president and now Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“The prosecution has not adduced any new or compelling evidence to warrant a finding different from what has already been rendered by the Supreme Court,” said the Sandiganbayan.

“Thus, as the High Tribunal categorically cleared Uriarte of culpability from the instant charge of plunder, it behooves this Court to acquit her,” the court said in its May 11 ruling only released to media May 17.

The SC ruling came out in 2016 during which it cleared Arroyo and former PCSO and Budget and Accounts manager Benigno Aguas.

“Wherefore, in light of all the foregoing, accused Rosario C. Uriarte is hereby acquitted of the charge of plunder defined and penalized under Section 2 of Republic Act No. 7080,” the Sandiganbayan said.

“As the acts or omission from which the civil liability might arise did not exist, no civil liability may be assessed against the accused,” it added.

Associate Justice and division chair Efren De La Cruz penned the decision, with Associate Justices Geraldine Faith Econg and Edgardo Caldona concurring.

In separate decisions, the Sandiganbayan had acquitted former PCSO chairman Reynaldo Villar; former PCSO Board chairman Sergio Valencia; former Board members Manuel Morato, Jose Taruc V, Raymundo Roquero, Ma. Fatima Valdes; and former Commission on Audit Intelligence Fund Fraud Audit Unit chief Nilda Plaras.