Aside from Roman Catholic Bishops; Arroyo critics also got PCSO funds, says Uriarte

Ma. Amelita Tolentino Philippine Charity Sweeptakes Office Board member, right, reads a document presented during the Senate hearing Wednesday as Chairman Margarita Juico looks on. Photo by Ron Dorendo for

The former general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office believes Wednesday's Senate hearing on alleged anomalies involving PCSO funds was misleading.

In a press conference, former PCSO GM Rosario Uriarte admitted giving ambulances to some government officials but maintained the donations were aboveboard. She noted that even critics of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo benefited from PCSO funds.

"Kasinungalingan na sabihin na ang tinutulungan lang namin ay mga allies lang ng dating administrasyon.hindi kami namimili ng tutulungan,regardless of political color lahat ng nagrerequest ng endowment fund at  ambulansya ay sinisikap namin matulungan," she said.

Documents obtained by ABS-CBN showed at least 29 lawmakers benefited from the PCSO funds during the Arroyo administration. Majority of the recipients were Arroyo allies and 8 were from the Liberal Party namely Reps. Antonio Roman, Antonio Diaz, Rodriguez Dadivas, Reynaldo Uy, Lawrence Wacnang, Solomon Chunglao, Miles Roces and Jose Antonio Roxas.

Uriarte also denied reports that the previous PCSO board incurred billions of pesos in debt. She said former PCSO board members are willing to meet with incumbent PCSO officials to clarify the matter.

The former PCSO GM said the former board members increased the PCSO's revenues from P7 billion in 2003 to P26.7 billion in 2009. She said PCSO's cash balance also increased from P700 million to P3.3 billion during her term.

Uriarte admitted the former Board gave Catholic bishops financial donations meant for medical and charity purposes only.

"To my knowledge, none of the bishops used that assistance to buy a Pajero, although some of the vehicles they purchased were four-wheel drive vehicles needed to navigate the rough terrain in many of their remote parishes," she said.

Uriarte and her fellow PCSO officials have been invited to attend the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry on Thursday.  With a report from Sheryll Mundo


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