LAKAS-Christian Muslim Democrats President and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has appealed for compassion for detained party-mate, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo.
Romualdez urged the Aquino administration to allow house arrest for the Pampanga congresswoman who is facing a P366 million plunder charge because of her deteriorating health.
The former president has been under hospital detention at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City for almost three years now.
“It would be a solid proof of true compassion of the Aquino Administration if former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would be granted house arrest as soon as possible. A house arrest would be just as helpful as hospital confinement for the former president for her immediate recovery,” Romualdez said.
The plunder raps against the former president is pending before the Sandiganbayan’s First Division—the only one who will decide if Rep. Arroyo deserves to be granted house arrest based on the pleas made by her camp and the opposition of the prosecution.
“Nobody can dispute the fact that the continued presence of family and loved ones is as effective as the best medicines and health care for the healing of a sick person,” Romualdez added.
ABAKADA party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, a member of the House Independent Minority bloc led by Romualdez, said there is nothing to fear in putting the former president under house arrest since all of her immediate family members are residing in the Philippines.
“She will be as guarded as she is under hospital arrest. We also don’t see any reason for her to evade prosecution since it’s her who wants to expedite the trial of the cases she is facing,” dela Cruz added.
Another Independent Minority bloc member and Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, for his part, argued that the 68-year-old Mrs. Arroyo deserves all the health care and assistance the government can give in any manner for her immediate recovery.
“We’re talking of a human life here. This is no longer just politics. We appeal to the court to consider this seriously. We sincerely hope that the court, and President [Benigno] Aquino [3rd], will take this into consideration and will extend compassion to former President Arroyo,” Atienza said.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, a former ally of ex-President Gloria Arroyo, earlier filed a House resolution which would declare Congresswoman Arroyo’s La Vista home as a state-run jail facility.
Rodriguez made the proposal under House Bill 5686, which declares Congresswoman Arroyo’s La Vista residence as sub-jail, meaning the La Vista residence will be put under the direct supervision of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). As a result, the BJMP will also have to assign a Jail Warden to supervise the said sub-jail.
Rodriguez said that such move is not new since Islamabad once declared the farmhouse residence of former military dictator and retired General Pervez Musharraf as a sub-jail because of lingering threats to Musharraf’s life, including threats from the notorious Taliban.
As a sub-jail, Musharraf’s farmhouse was placed under the supervision of Deputy Inspector General of Prison Punjab. Under detention in the sub-jail, Musharraf was allowed to move freely inside the house but he can’t accept visitors or conduct meetings without prior approval from the Chief Commissioner of Islamabad. Likewise, members of the jail staff would be responsible to arrange the food in the sub-jail.
“Former President Arroyo, a senior citizen whose health condition continues to deteriorate, should be held under house arrest. She has been suffering from cervical spondylosis, an irreversible and progressive spine disease, hypoparathyroidism and depression,” according to the House resolution.
Rodriguez was named by then President Arroyo as the Philippine Ambassador to Germany back in 2001, but he failed to fully assume the post since he failed to get the nod of the Commission on Appointments.
“Due to humanitarian considerations, it would only be proper to allow house arrest for the former president, especially because she is not a flight risk,” the House resolution added.