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Another Arroyo coaccused acquitted in PCSO plunder case.

The Sandiganbayan has acquitted one of the last remaining codefendants of former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office plunder case, just six months after surrendering to authorities.

In a 44-page resolution dated March 30, the court's First Division granted the Jan. 16 demurrer filed by former PCSO board member Ma. Fatima Valdes for insufficiency of prosecution evidence.

In dismissing the case against Valdes, the court cited its April 6, 2015 resolution granting the demurrer of her fellow PCSO board members Manuel Morato, Raymundo Roquero and Jose Taruc V, as well as former Commission on Audit head Reynaldo Villar.

'Considering that accused Valdes, Morato, Roquero and Taruc were all members of the Board of Directors of the PCSO and are similarly charged of the same offense, and considering further that accused Morato, Roquero and Taruc had been acquitted in this case, the Court has no choice but to acquit accused Valdes as well,' read the resolution penned by Justice Efren N. de la Cruz.

Justices Geraldine Faith A. Econg and Bernelito R. Fernandez concurred with the resolution.

Valdes was accused alongside the other board members of passing the resolutions transferring a P366-million portion of PCSO operating funds to the confidential intelligence funds that could be accessed with minimal restrictions.

The board resolutions confirmed the Office of the President's earlier approval of the transfer of funds as requested by another coaccused, PCSO vice chair and general manager Rosario Uriarte.

Valdes was allowed by the court to adopt the proceedings held against her already-acquitted colleagues.

The court wholly reiterated its original findings in the April 2015 ruling, which stated that the evidence is weak and cannot establish that the PCSO officials conspired to divert the funds for their personal gain or raided the public treasury.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Apr 3, 2017
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