Where did P391-M PCSO fund go? | Inquirer Opinion
As I See It

Where did P391-M PCSO fund go?

/ 09:41 PM December 13, 2011

Now it is open war between the Executive and Legislature, on one hand, and the Judiciary, the weakest of all the three branches of government, on the other hand. The House of Representatives has impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona and the latter has vowed to fight back and rallied his forces for the coming battle.

Is this good or bad for the Philippines? Both. It is good because it shows that democracy is working here. It shows that the checks and balances among the three branches of government are working. It shows that not one branch can abuse its powers without the other two branches doing anything.

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It is bad because it destroys the harmonious relationship among the three branches and creates a constitutional crisis. It upsets the peace among them.

What will happen next? It depends on the Senate, which will try the Chief Justice, weigh the evidence against him and decide whether or not he should be removed from office. The senators are supposed to be independent-minded, unlike the members of the House who usually dance to the music of the Executive.

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The impeachment case is not really that scary. We have had three impeachment cases already: the first against President Joseph Estrada, the second against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, and now this. Nothing much happened after Estrada and Gutierrez were removed from office.

Impeachment is the solution provided by the Constitution to remove a constitutional official who has betrayed his oath of office. The generic term is usually “betrayal of public trust,” which means the official has betrayed the trust of the people.

Like a gathering storm, the showdown between President Aquino and Corona has been coming since the latter was appointed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in violation of the Constitution, according to P-Noy. It was worsened by the series of Supreme Court decisions favorable to GMA and unfavorable to the present administration and thus set back its “reform agenda” that P-Noy promised to the people. The last straw was the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the high court against the Department of Justice, which almost allowed GMA to flee the country and escape prosecution.

P-Noy was obviously encouraged by the support of the people as shown by opinion polls. And it is sad that, except for the legal community, the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court do not have much support from the rest of the country.

Few Filipinos realize the seriousness of the present crisis. Most of them are more concerned with just surviving. The judiciary has nobody to blame but itself for this lack of public support. The reason is that we have the slowest justice system in the world and many Filipinos are fed up with that. They blame the courts, the judges and the prosecutors for that and, most of all, the Supreme Court which supervises the lower courts and is supposed to institute reforms to make the wheels of justice move faster.

For decades, the judiciary has relaxed in its comfort zone and the wheels of justice rolled ever more slowly, but nobody dared to speak up (not the law practitioners who complain about the slowness and the injustices to their colleagues but not publicly) because they are afraid of the ire of the justices and judges and the things they can do to their cases pending in their courts.

Now comes a popular President who dared arouse the anger of members of the judiciary by openly attacking the Chief Justice and his Court.

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Some wring their hands at this newest crisis, but I think it is a healthy sign that democracy is working.

* * *

Things are going to get much worse for GMA. Another electoral sabotage case is being filed against her and another plunder case has already been filed and is undergoing preliminary investigation.

This was revealed at the Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel last Monday by the two guests: Ma. Aleta Tolentino, member of the board of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and Brian Daniel Poe Llamanzares, grandson of Fernando Poe Jr. who lost in the 2004 presidential elections to GMA.

Llamanzares said FPJ was cheated by GMA and the family will file an electoral sabotage case against her.

Tolentino said the PCSO has already filed a plunder case against GMA and the previous PCSO board for the loss of P391 million in PCSO funds. The money was supposed to be the “intelligence fund” of the PCSO and it disappeared in 2006. There is no accounting of where the money went. Some say that the money could have been used for the 2007 senatorial elections.

The strange part is that the PCSO has no intelligence fund and there is no budget for it. Nevertheless, there it was: P391 million disbursed, encashed and disappeared without any liquidation and without any auditing.

There is a paper trail up to the point where the PCSO checks were encashed. The hands of GMA and former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte are all over this paper trail, Tolentino said. GMA approved the allocation and disbursement of the fund through marginal notes on official documents.

The PCSO board confirmed the appointment of Uriarte as the special disbursing officer. Uriarte signed the outgoing checks as PCSO general manager payable to herself and encashed them. She signed the checks as GM and also as payee.

The whole transaction was pre-audited, not by the Commission on Audit, but by the assistant general manager who also certified that the fund has been liquidated.

The PCSO has filed plunder charges against GMA, the previous PCSO board, Uriarte, the previous assistant general manager, and some COA officials.

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TAGS: Aquino, democracy, Electoral Sabotage, executive, featured columns, fund scandal, government branches, intelligence funds, judiciary, opinion, PCSO, Renato corona
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