FORMER Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Director Jose Taruc won’t turn into witness against former President Gloria Arroyo.
This was disclosed by Taruc’s lawyer, Filibon Fabela Tacardon, when Taruc entered a not guilty plea before the Sandiganbayan on Thursday in connection with the P366 million plunder charge leveled against him for alleged mismanagement of the said PCSO intelligence fund.
“Walang usapang ganun [to turn state witness](There was no discussion about that),” Tacardon told reporters after the Sandiganbayan’s First Division submitted Taruc’s petition for bail for resolution.
Taruc, presently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, is one of the Mrs. Arroyo’s co-accused in the P366 million plunder charge alongside former government officials namely: PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte; PCSO Board chairman Sergio Valencia; PCSO board directors Manuel Morato, Raymundo Roquero and Ma. Fatima Valdes; PCSO budget and accounts manager Benigno Aguas; former Commission on Audit chairman Reynaldo Villar and former COA-Intelligence Fund Unit head Nilda Plaras.
Former President Arroyo is under hospital arrest over at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City because of the said pending plunder charge.
Also on Thursday, Taruc waived the pre-trial conference, sought immediate trial, adopted the evidence and testimonies presented by defense and passed up on conducting cross-examinations to the witnesses.
“He [Taruc] will submit his counter-affidavit next week,” Tacardon added.
Taruc turned himself to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the PNP in Camp Crame, Quezon City last Monday.
Plunder, a non-bailable offense, is committed by siphoning off P50 million worth of government money in a series of transactions. If the accused personalities are found guilty of such a crime, their assets from the plundered resources will be ordered forfeited in favor of the government.