• Arroyo acquittal looms

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    230212_cgma01At least 10 SC justices favor freedom for ex-President — source

    [The Supreme Court en banc is set to discuss today (Tuesday) the case of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, after several postponements. The Arroyo petition has been calendared under item number 49 in Tuesday’s agenda.]

    THE ACQUITTAL and release from detention of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo looms with the Supreme Court (SC) set to deliberate and vote on the petition of the former President to dismiss her plunder case because of weak evidence, a highly reliable court source told The Manila Times.

    The Arroyo petition, discussions on which had been repeatedly postponed, is included in today’s agenda of the SC en banc.

    If voting happens today, at least 10 SC justices will vote for Arroyo’s acquittal, but the number can reach 12 to 13, the SC source said. Only eight votes are needed to secure a majority of the 15 magistrates.

    Most of the six appointees of former President Benigno Aquino 3rd, who sent Arroyo to jail in 2012, are even inclined to vote for acquittal, the source said.

    So far, only Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, an Aquino appointee, has dissented to the draft ponencia or decision of Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, which recommends the acquittal of Arroyo.

    The other five Aquino appointees are Justices Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Francis Jardeleza, Benjamin Caguioa and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

    The high tribunal is said to have waited for Aquino to step down from office before acting on Arroyo’s plea because of the “chilling effect” of the Aquino administration’s campaign to impeach the late Chief Justice Renato Corona.

    Voting can still be delayed if any member of the high court asks to “call again” the case in future en banc sessions.

    On Monday, The Manila Times reported that Sereno could try to block the vote.

    Arroyo’s petition asked the Supreme Court to review the Sandiganbayan’s decision last year to junk the former president’s “demurrer to evidence,” in which the accused pleads for the dismissal of charges and argues that the prosecution had presented insufficient evidence.

    Arroyo did not present evidence at the Sandiganbayan on the belief that the prosecution, headed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, had presented a weak case.

    Approving the demurrer in effect acquits and frees Arroyo, who is detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.

    She can no longer be charged for the same case based on the principle of “double jeopardy.”

    Unanswered questions
    The source leaked to The Manila Times the dispositive portion of the draft ponencia of Bersamin acquitting Arroyo and a PCSO official, Benigno Aguas, of the charge of embezzling P366 million in intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office from 2008 to 2010.

    “Wherefore, the Court Grants the petitions for certiorari; Annuls and Set Aside the resolution issued in Criminal Case No. SB-12-CRM-0174 by the Sandiganbayan on April 6, 2015 and September 10, 2015; Grants the petitioners respective Demurrer to Evidence. Dismisses Criminal Case No. SB-12-CRM-0174 as to the petitioners Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aguas; Orders the release from detention of said petitioners and make no pronouncements on costs of suit,” the draft stated.

    “Further, the Court Denies [Arroyo’s] urgent motion for House Arrest for being moot and academic,” it added.

    A number of justices had raised doubts on the case against Arroyo as the Ombudsman failed to answer the question of where the money allegedly stolen went, the source said.
    The marginal notes of Arroyo to PCSO executives directing the release of intelligence funds will be considered a “ministerial act” as President of the Philippines, and does not make her liable for plunder.

    Moreover, the PCSO officials tagged as principals by direct participation in the supposed misuse of funds have been allowed to post bail.

    “[H]ow can a mastermind be in jail if the ones who were accused of actually stealing the money are now on bail? [T]he liability of the mastermind is dependent upon the principal who stole the money,” the high court source pointed out.

    ‘Awesome powers’
    Another source quoted to The Manila Times the dispositive portion of the draft of the dissenting opinion penned by Leonen.

    “We should stay this Court’s swift hand. It is not yet time to exercise our awesome powers. In time perhaps, with more prudence and benefiting from the wisdom of our colleagues from the Sandiganbayan,” the draft dissent stated.

    “Accordingly, I vote to Deny the consolidated petitions for certiorari, public respondent Sandiganbayan committed no grave abuse of discretion in issuing the assailed April 6, 2015 and September 10, 2015 resolutions,” it added.

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    19 Comments

    1. Mr. Lou Suit on

      ***
      Let the SC set her free.

      I wanna see her pass the neck brace and wheelchair to P-noy in a hospital arrest turn-over ceremony.

      These neck brace and wheelchair have become the symbols used by the crooks to con the Filipino People into believing that they deserve the hospital presidential suites rather than the crowded, dirty jails they failed to improved during their watch.

      … and the cycle goes on …

    2. Kuh Lou Ngan on

      ***
      Let the SC set her free.

      I wanna see her in congress without her neck brace and wheel chair.

      Hopefully, she would be kind enough to pass them to P-noy during a hospital arrest turn-over ceremony.

      These two medical gadget and equipment have become the new symbols to con the Filipino people into believing that corrupt officials should be confined not in jails but in hospital suites.

      … and the cycle goes on….

    3. Based on common sense, why she became the mastermind if it cannot be directly identified that she had the stolen money. Also, allowing the front-liners to post bail is really questionnable while they are still establishing the direct accountability of PGMA. If SC finally acquit PGMA, we have again witnessed how powerful a President is. His influence to the decision of government courts such as Sandigan is very significant.

    4. Arroyo out!

      Aquino, Comelec officials, DBM officials, Drug protector Generals and Government officials – in.

      Para leksyon sa lahat na masasamang loob. Kanya kanyang turno sa kulungan, walang exempted.

    5. The Courts, all courts, should now be unafraid that PNoy will get after them. PNoy is now an ordinary citizen facing his own legal problems for his abuses during his term. If his administration only had a handful of cases against Arroyo, PNoy will have his hands busy for the next 10 years for corruption, bribery, incompetence and ignorance of the law.

    6. To the Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines: you MUST only serve the REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, not any single individual or any appointing power nor the President…. or else, your legal minds do not suffice the need for you to serve justice to all Filipinos.

    7. Abnoy kalampagin mo ang mga alipires mong sina leonen at serreno na ipagpatuloy ang paghihiganti mo.Paaandarin mo ulet ang mga kagaguhan mo,palibhasay lahi ka ng mga traydor(lolo mo ay makapili noong panaho ng mga hapon at lahi ka din ng mga balasubas(ninuno mo ay niloko ang bayan sa pagsakamay ng Luisita noon).kaya wala namanng talagang maasahan na katinihan sa iyo gago ka.Buti na lang wala ka na sa malakanyang kundi marami pa ang mamamatay dahil sa kagaguhan mo.

    8. Leonen and Sereno are Abnoys Curs, no doubt those canards will vote against. They have no shame nor conscience. They should be impeached!!!!

    9. Voting to allow Poe to run for president was a grave abuse, Those 9 justices should be impeached.

    10. Justice Leonen, notwithstanding his being a Bar topnotcher in 1987, is proving to be beholden to the one appointing him to the position and not to the merits of the case. He should not be filing a dissent just for the sake of dissenting in order to please PNoy. There are legal minds from Baguio that are much better than him.

      • as usual and I guess its natural for people to look who is appointing who and not the merit of the case.

        and P300million is a paltry sum to be considered as plunder.