Press Release
July 7, 2011

Enrile: Senate cannot ask GMA to testify on PCSO anomalies

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile today said the Senate will not ask former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to testify on alleged anomalies in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) during her term.

"She is a member of Congress. We cannot ask her to appear in our hearing out of parliamentary courtesy," Enrile said.

Enrile declined to answer media questions about the possible liability of the former President on reported anomalies in the PCSO.

"I don't know whether she's liable. I cannot say yes or no," the Senate President told media after the latest Senate hearing on reported PCSO irregularities.

Enrile said he was not satisfied with the statements of ex-PCSO General Manager Rosario Uriarte in her testimony before the Senate.

"I don't believe her. Her statements were contradictory. Our Constitution forbids the use of appropriated funds for purposes other than those for which they were specifically appropriated. They diverted intelligence funds to pay blood money and for assistance to calamity-stricken areas. That should not be the case. If she is charged, she can go to jail," Enrile said.

"They asked for intelligence funds. Of course, the approving authority was the President. The President probably relied on their representation. But there are a lot of things that have to be unearthed first before you can pin down the responsibility of the approving authority," Enrile added.

Enrile said the Senate still has to determine the extent of Uriarte's liability.

"I don't know (at this point). We will start with her, because she was the one who asked for it. She is the one who disbursed it. She is the one that created the project. Who else will answer for it? She is the only one," Enrile said.

The Senate investigation has yielded revelations that a number of Catholic bishops had received vehicles from the PCSO during the previous administration upon their request for their use in official functions.

The Catholic Bishops Conference is expected to issue an official stand on the issue as a collegial body anytime soon in the wake of criticism that the previous government may have violated the principle of separation of church and state by approving the donation of vehicles to some bishops through the PCSO.

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