By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki
The Sandiganbayan Second Division has acquitted former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) general manager Rosario Uriarte and two former members of the office’s board of directors of their graft and breach of conduct charges for reportedly receiving a gift from a company that won a contract from them.
Uriarte, Jose R. Taruc, and Fatima A.S. Valdez were initially charged for violating of Section 3(b) of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and Section 7(d) of RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
As officers of the PCSO, they reportedly intervened in the approval of the joint venture agreement (JVA) between PCSO and TMA Group of Companies, an Australian manufacturing company, for the establishment of a thermal coating and printing plant in the Philippines.
After this intervention, they accepted a gift from TMA, which came in the form of an all-expense paid trip to Australia in February 2010.
Section 3(b) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act prohibits public officials from “directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit for himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the government and any other party, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law.”
The promulgation, which took place on Thursday afternoon, was presided by Second Division Chairperson Oscar Herrera Jr. and Associate Justices Michael Frederick Musngi and Lorifel Pahimna.