PCSO intel funds used as blood money for OFWs on death row

A former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) official on Thursday revealed that part of the agency's intelligence funds were used as blood money for four overseas Filipino workers (OFW) on death row in Saudi Arabia.

During the day's Senate blue ribbon committee hearing, former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte said: "Yung may krimen sa ibang bansa, (nagbibigay kami ng) donasyon ng pera para di (sila) makulong, ginamit din yang intel funds (We used the intelligence funds to give donations so that the OFWs who committed crimes wouldn't be sent to jail)," she said.

Uriarte said she specifically handed P5 million in cash for each of the OFWs on death row in Saudi Arabia to Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos.

"Siya po kumuha ng tig-P5 million (He was the one you received the P5 million)," she said.

She likewise noted that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was aware of the blood money.

"Opo. Yan po ang pro forma lang ng letter (Yes, but we just used template letters when requesting the money)," she said.

But Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile found it hard to believe the former PCSO official's story.

Enrile said Uriarte was merely trying to find a way to liquidate the millions in intelligence funds she requested from Mrs. Arroyo.

"You're making up a story to use other than your story," he said during the same hearing.

Enrile then asked the Senate blue ribbon committee to summon Conejos to the next hearing.

Earlier in the hearing, it was revealed that the PCSO — through Uriarte as former PCSO general manager and assigned disbursing officer — requested P325 million in intelligence funds from Mrs. Arroyo. — RSJ, GMA News

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