GMA not accountable in PCSO plunder – witness

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The Commission on Audit (CoA)’s Flerida Jimenez cleared former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo anew of the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.

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Jimenez took the witness stand again on Wednesday morning at the Sandiganbayan’s First Division, which heard former CoA chief Reynaldo Villar’s bail petition.

The petition still awaits resolution.

Answering the defense’s cross examination if Arroyo had participation in liquidation reports, she repeatedly said that the one accountable for it is the special disbursing officer.

It was not the former president who submitted or prepared the liquidation report, Jimenez testified.

Arroyo is accused of authorizing the allegedly anomalous release of the PCSO funds.

When the prosecution asked if the witness had knowledge of Arroyo receiving the money, Jimenez said that she did not think so.

The witness is the incumbent head of the CoA’s intelligence/confidential audit unit (ICAU), a post formerly held by Nilda Plaras who is among those accused of plunder.

Early this year, Jimenez testified that the funds were liquidated and cleared by the CoA and that Plaras issued credit advices for all reports in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Nobody questioned these and sought for a review, she said.

The prosecution in the P366-million PCSO case was able to present their witnesses today, after failing to do so in the previous hearings.

Another witness it brought to the court was Director Noel Clemente of the CoA’s Human Resource Management Office.

Clemente testified to prove that the ICAU was not an official unit under the commission’s Office of the Chairman, while Jimenez appeared in court to show that Plaras as ex-ICAU head was the alter ego of then-chairman Villar.

The ICAU is not in the CoA’s organizational chart, Clemente pointed out, and its function to supervise the audit of CIFs was carried out by the executive staff under the chairman.

“So far as Human Resource Management is concerned, I asked the present ICAU head if they have a resolution [creating ICAU]” but she was not able to show one, Clemente said.

The defense however argued that there was no need for a resolution, as it was common practice for chairmen to issue orders in the exercise of duty.

When asked if the chairman had power to create an office, Clemente said yes.

The defense also built credence to Villar’s career, showing that it is unblemished by asking Clemente if there were no other case against the former chairman to which he said yes.

Clemente also affirmed that Villar led a distinguished career and like Plaras worked his way up from the ranks.

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