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Another plunder suspect off the hook

  • Written by Jester P. Manalastas
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 291

ANOTHER co-accused of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the plunder case involving misuse of P366 million funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) was cleared by the Sandiganbayan.

The First Division of the Sandiganbayan dismissed the charges against Nilda Plaras, the former head of the Commission on Audit (COA) Intelligence Fund Unit.

Following the dismissal, the anti-graft court recalled the warrant of arrest and the hold departure order issued against her.

“While admittedly accused Plaras has never submitted to the jurisdiction of this Court, the issue on jurisdiction advanced by the prosecution is, however, mooted by the foregoing pronouncements, which have effectively rendered the Court devoid of information and proceedings in this case to take cognizance of,” the ruling said.

“Suffice it to state that in view of the recent development, the instant case against accused Plaras has no more leg to stand on, thus warranting its dismissal,” it added.
     
As this developed, only former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte — currently detained at the National Bureau of Investigation custodial center — is left as the lone defendant in the plunder case.
     
The Sandiganbayan based its decision on the Supreme Court resolution dated August 23, 2016 ordering the termination of proceedings against Plaras, who went straight to the high court to contest her plunder charge.
     
The same division had earlier cleared Ma. Fatima Valdes, former PCSO Board of Directors member, in the case that stemmed from the alleged misuse of the PCSO’s intelligence funds during the term of Arroyo, who is now a lawmaker, as president.
     
In dismissing her case, the court cited its April 6, 2015 resolution granting the demurrers to evidence of the other co-accused, namely, PCSO board members Manuel Morato, Raymundo Roquero and Jose Taruc V.