Ombudsman dismisses complaints vs PCSO

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The Ombudsman has dismissed the complaints filed against members of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Board for alleged acts of graft and corruption.

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In a resolution released to the media on Monday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said the anti-graft court “finds no merit in the allegation of corrupt practices imputed against the respondents.”

Former PCSO chairman Manuel Morato filed the case against former Board members Margarita Juico (chairman) and Ma. Aleta Tolentino (director), incumbents Jose Ferdinand Rojas 2nd (acting chairman and general manager), Mabel Mamba, Francisco Joaquin 3rd, and Betty Nantes (directors), former Board secretary Eduardo Araullo (deceased), and various employees of PCSO and the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB).

In striking down the criminal and administrative complaints, the Ombudsman said there is “no evidence to show that the respondents personally benefited from the transaction, caused any party undue injury, gave any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage, or preference.”

Neither did the respondents enter into a “contract manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government, nor were there bad faith nor negligence on their part,” said the Ombudsman.

Rojas hailed the decision, saying that the charge was a pure act of harassment.

“The current PCSO Board of Directors and management have always walked the straight path, especially when it comes to financial matters. We are glad that this harassment suit has been found to be baseless and without merit,” said Rojas.

In his complaint, Morato assailed a resolution passed in 2010 by the respondents transferring PCSO’s dollar account, which was then maturing, from Landbank of the Philippines (LBP) to UCPB because the latter offered a higher interest rate of 2.25 percent annually compared to the former’s 1.35 percent.

He said that the resolution did not take into account various Commission on Audit (CoA) and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) circulars and regulations, particularly CoA Circular 79-114 that lists the banks authorized to accept government deposits and funds.

These include LBP, Philippine National Bank, the Development Bank of the Philippines, the Philippine Amanah Bank, and the Philippine Veterans Bank.

In their defense, the respondents pointed out that the UCPB is authorized to accept deposits from government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) such as PCSO by virtue of BSP Resolution 590 of 2008.

Other BSP and Monetary Board rules, which superseded some of those that Morato mentioned in his complaint, allow GOCCs to deposit their cash balances in such banks as the Monetary Board may designate, among them UCPB, they said.

Moreover, the decision of the then-PCSO Board of Directors allowed the government to earn more in the form of higher interest which are used to fund the agency’s charitable programs.

Rojas assured the public that the PCSO Board continually conducts its affairs with probity and transparency

“We prudently steward PCSO resources for the benefit of the country’s needy and disadvantaged,” Rojas said.

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