Former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Rosario Uriarte is asking the Sandiganbayan’s First Division to allow her confinement at home and/or to let her post bail for her provisional liberty for health reasons.
Uriarte, previously at large, was charged with plunder before the Sandiganbayan in 2012 along with former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and several others over alleged misuse of PCSO funds covering the years 2008 to 2010.
In July, the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed the case against Arroyo and Benigno Aguas, a former PCSO budget and accounts manager, for insufficiency of evidence.
In a 14-page urgent omnibus motion, the defense asked the Sandiganbayan to allow Uriarte “to be confined at her home… [in]Quezon City for the 6 to 10 months that she will be undergoing chemotherapy, surgery and other possible courses of treatment; and/or…immediately be granted bail for her provisional liberty, and that the amount thereof be fixed in an amount in cash or surety as the Honorable Court may deem sufficient.”
The court allowed her to be brought to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City last month for a medical examination and as a result of the findings, the defense said, her attending physicians laid down a general treatment plan in a medical abstract that was attached to the motion.
Her place of detention at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila “will unfortunately not provide the requisite environment” that would let her recover before the next treatment, it added.
“The NBI premises would likewise expose her to possible infection-causing germs which accused Uriarte’s doctors have cautioned against,” the defense said.
It added that considering the doctors have also warned her of the potential side effects of chemotherapy such as “fatigue, risk of infection, nausea and vomiting, hair loss, loss of appetite, mouth sores and diarrhea,” Uriarte “will be able to more properly and comfortably deal with said side effects at home where she can be attended to by family.”
The defense said Uriarte’s home is near St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City, thus she can be more easily rushed there if she suffers any complications arising from the treatment.
The defense cited the SC ruling in August which granted, on humanitarian grounds, a bail petition of former senator Juan Ponce Enrile who was charged with plunder in 2014 along with several other individuals in connection with the pork barrel scam.
It also cited the SC ruling, which acquitted Arroyo and Aguas in July.
Plunder, being an offense punishable by life imprisonment, is not bailable as a matter of right but bailable in the court’s discretion when evidence is not strong.
Other individuals who were charged with plunder in 2012 over the alleged misuse of PCSO funds were acquitted by the Sandiganbayan’s First Division last year as it granted their demurrers to evidence.
These were former PCSO Directors Manuel Morato, Raymundo Roquero and Jose Taruc 5th as well as former Commission on Audit Chairman Reynaldo Villar.