• Sandigan urged to not separate Arroyo with former PCSO execs’ plunder raps

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    GOVERNMENT prosecutors are blocking the move of Rep. Gloria Arroyo to have a separate trial in line with her plunder charge related to the P366-million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office scam.

    In a six-page opposition, the Office of the Ombudsman said that the case of the former president is rolling smoothly and would violate her right to speedy trial.

    “Are there undisputed facts and established circumstances on the part of accused Arroyo that would render her claimed separate trial essential? We do not think so,” the Ombudsman said.

    They raised that the plunder charges against Arroyo “was rolling and even in the fast-paced.”

    In her motion for a separate trial, Arroyo earlier cited that there are undisputed facts and circumstances which render a separate trial.

    Also, the defenses of the accused “are apparently antagonistic to each other [that]a separate trial may be ordered by the court.”

    The Ombudsman lawyers cited that when the accused challenged the strength of the evidence of the prosecution for purposes of bail, the Sandiganbayan has resolved it resulting in the release of PCSO officials Sergio Valencia, Manuel Morator and Raymundo Roquero.

    Fiscals already said that they will just take in the testimonies of incumbent PCSO board member Aleta Tolentino as part of the prosecution’s body of evidence.

    “The prosecutions is surprised why Arroyo is now claiming that her right to speedy trial will be violated when the truth is, the prosecution had already presented partly its evidence,” the Ombusdman pointed out.

    It added that they are only left to bolster and supplement Tolentino’s claims by adding more testimonies.

    Public prosecutors told the Sandiganbayan that the charges against Arroyo is grounded on conspiracy and hence could not be removed from the other defendants.

    Charges against Arroyo centered on her approval of the request of former PCSO general Rosario Uriarte for the additional intelligence fund.

    “Her acts cannot be separated from the others as her acts are inter-connected, if not interrelated with the acts of her co-accused,” the opposition read.

    It warned the anti-graft court that if the magistrates will allow the separation of trial, it will encourage other accused who are charged of conspiracy to have their cases separated from the main case “in the entire Philippines.”

    State prosecutors also said that granted separation of trial, it will belabor the prosecution to repeat again its presentation of evidence.

    “This will bring inconvenience and a huge expense not only to the prosecution but also to the court or to the government in general,” state lawyers said.

    With repetition of the evidence presentation, it will only lengthen the case which will result in “more inconvenience and expense.”

    The Ombudsman urged the court to deny the motion for separate trial of Arroyo for lack of merit.

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