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Lacson: PCSO funds also channeled to 'Run Gloria' fund in 2003

The present mess on vehicle donations to some bishops is not the first controversy involving "favors" from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), a senator said Wednesday. Sen. Panfilo Lacson said that as early as 2003, the PCSO released funds to a "foundation" prodding then President Gloria Arroyo to run in the 2004 presidential election. "Why can the 'Gawin Natin Lakas Pinoy' get practically anything from PCSO? The secret is Raul Nestor Ancheta, one of the incorporators of the foundation and chief of staff of Rosario Uriarte, the general manager of PCSO at the time," he said in a statement. He noted he had bared this as early as 2003, when he delivered a privilege speech bearing the existence of the Jose Pidal bank accounts where funds were supposedly laundered. The Gawin Natin Lakas Pinoy foundation, less than a year old at the time, was behind several "Run, Gloria Run!" posters plastered in many parts of the country. Lacson said the Gawin Natin-Lakas Pinoy appeared to be very influential with the state gambling agency, getting big amounts that went to Run, Gloria, Run materials and posters that sprouted in parts of the country in late 2003. Lacson cited a memo from Uriarte requesting for P2 million, to be charged to the PCSO charity fund, for a supposed feeding project of the Gawin Natin Lakas Pinoy. The memo had an “OK" note from then President Arroyo. Stamps on the document indicated the request was received by the Office of the President in August 2003, although the feeding project was scheduled in July. In another instance, the PCSO deployed a medical team including a physician, two nurses, a driver and paramedics to an October 2003 pro-Arroyo motorcade of the Samahan ng Mamamayan Sa Hunta at Destabilisasyon (SMASH-Destabilisasyon) from the People Power Monument in Quezon City to Mendiola. This was after a request was made to Uriarte by Lakas Pinoy through its lawyer Romarleo Ayson, the statement said. — LBG, GMA News