Monday, July 18, 2011

Lacson: PCSO funds used for Gloria '04 campaign posters


Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday grilled former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) general manager Rosario Uriarte why they granted funding for a non-government organization which prodded then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to run in the 2004 presidential elections.

During the day's Senate blue ribbon committee hearing, Lacson said the PCSO gave the group Gawin Natin Lakas Pinoy P2 million in 2003.

The Gawin Natin Lakas Pinoy foundation, less than a year old at the time, was behind several "Run, Gloria Run!" posters plastered in many parts of the country.

"Binigyan ninyo sila ng P2 million pero ang nangyari instead na gawin for charity, nagpagawa ng maraming posters (You gave them P2 million but what happened was it was not used for charity but for posters)," Lacson said, holding up a copy of the poster.

Lacson likewise revealed that the one who requested the funding was Raul Nestor Ancheta, Uriarte's chief of staff and one of the incorporators of the foundation.

"Wala po ba kayong due diligence para malaman kung papunta talaga sa charity? Maski san ko pong anggulong tingnan, wala po akong makitang charitable purpose (Don't you have due diligence to know if this money went to charity? No matter how I look at it, it wasn't used for charitable purposes)," he said.

Uriarte, however, said that she could not remember what the senator was talking about.

"Hindi ko na po siya matandaan... ang usual binibigay po namin medical at charity (I don't remember, but we usually give funding to medical missions and charity)," she said.

Lacson likewise asked why funds requested from the PCSO for the purchase of ambulances in 2003 were used for a motorcade. He added that the PCSO even provided a medical team for the event.

Uriarte, however, also denied knowing anything about the matter. But she said that it was common for them to provide medical teams to development work.

Intelligence funds

Uriarte had earlier revealed that she personally requested intelligence funds from then-President Arroyo, who promptly approved the requests.

Senators, however, doubted the amount of the intelligence funds requested and approved by Mrs. Arroyo, which amounted to P325 million from 2008 to 2010. They specifically found suspicious the PCSO's request of P160 million in funds before the elections.

In a subsequent hearing, it was likewise revealed that Uriarte encashed P102.5 million in PCSO funds from January to June 2010, also within the election period. She refused to reveal where the funds went.

Last week, Bayan Muna party-list Representatives Teodoro CasiƱo and Neri Colmenares filed graft and plunder cases against Mrs. Arroyo and Uriarte for allegedly diverting and malversing PCSO funds to “phantom" intelligence funds not subject to regular auditing.


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