Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Rosario Uriarte ties go a long way back to DTI days

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4:24 am | Friday, July 8th, 2011

 5share84 75


TIES THAT BIND AND BIND Former President Arroyo places the Presidential medal of merit on then PCSO Vice Chair and General Manager Rosario Uriarte in this photo taken during the 75th PCSO anniversary celebration on Sept. 8, 2009. EDWIN BACASMAS

Rosario Uriarte’s ties with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now a Pampanga lawmaker, go a long way back.

It came as no surprise then to some senators that Uriarte was appointed general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) under Arroyo’s watch.

“She was very familiar with the President. Therefore, she had the confidence and trust of the President. That’s why she was placed there,” Sen. Franklin Drilon told reporters after the blue ribbon committee hearing on the alleged misuse of PCSO funds.

During close to two hours of grilling, it was Drilon who asked Uriarte about her professional background, giving the public a glimpse of her association with the former leader.

It turned out Uriarte was closer to Arroyo than the public had expected or imagined, working for her from the time the latter entered government service at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) until she assumed the presidency.

Uriarte confirmed working with then Assistant Trade Secretary Arroyo while she was still a member of the Garment and Textile Exports Board in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

She next served as her consultant when Arroyo was elected senator and vice president years later, and as part of her appointments staff when she became the President.

In an admission that surprised Cagayan-born Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Uriarte said she briefly worked at the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) in 2002 before she was appointed to the PCSO.

Uriarte served as general manager of the PCSO from Jan. 17, 2003, to July 30, 2010, and became concurrent chair of the agency from April 19, 2004, to Aug. 29, 2004.

Uriarte earned her economics degree from the University of the Philippines before working at the DTI, Bureau of Industrial Development and Ceza.

She then ventured into free-lance consultancy on local government process and training, master plan development and infrastructure before assuming her post at the PCSO.

In his privilege speech in October 2003, Sen. Panfilo Lacson alleged that Uriarte’s chief of staff, Raul Ancheta, facilitated the use of PCSO funds to finance a private group urging then President Arroyo to run in the 2004 presidential election.

Arroyo had served the unexpired term of President Joseph Estrada starting in 2001.

Ancheta denied the allegations and said that all PCSO books were open for review.

In 2008, Uriarte was on the roster of Gusi Peace Prize awardees, under the social welfare category. The award is referred to by its promoter as the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize. Reports from TJ Burgonio and Inquirer Research