FORMER President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo left her detention cell at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City around 6 p.m. on Thursday, free at last after four years in a hospital cell.
Arroyo evaded media personnel waiting for her vehicle to get out of the Veterans’ hospital, and went straight to her home in La Vista Subdivision, also in Quezon City.
“She felt really, really happy and really relieved,” her defense lawyer Laurence Arroyo (not related) told reporters.
The former President was acquitted by the Supreme Court en banc on Tuesday of plunder charges filed against her by the government of ex-President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd in connection with the alleged misuse of P366 million in intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
Arroyo’s camp said she came out of the VMMC with her family except her husband, former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, who is abroad. The former President went ahead of her lawyers.
The former President was also planning to undergo an executive check-up and spend Thursday night at St. Luke’s Medical Center at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.
The former President was escorted by the Philippine National Police’s Police Security and Protection Group, which is tasked to secure VIPs.
Seeking medical opinion abroad is also an option for Arroyo, who has cervical spondylosis, a condition of wear and tear affecting spinal disks in the neck.
“I think that’s an option for her because over the course of the four years we’ve been regularly discussing that option to seek medical treatment abroad,” the lawyer Arroyo said.
The former leader is reported to be planning to attend the State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday.
The former First Gentleman’s spokesman, Ferdinand Topacio, told reporters outside the VMMC that Arroyo is raring to go back to Congress for legislative work.
Asked if Arroyo harbors ill feelings or anger toward her successor, Aquino, who put her in jail, Topacio replied: “Not that I’ve discerned from our conversation earlier. It seems she is at peace with herself. I think she’s happy that the ordeal is over and what I hear from her is all about work.”
Topacio also said Arroyo took “in stride” the two-day wait for her release from detention because of the delay in the release of the full text of the Supreme Court ruling.
Former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, an Arroyo appointee forced to resign by the Aquino administration in 2011, said in a statement on Thursday that the SC ruling acquitting Arroyo meant that the former President “is free of charges.”
“We are a nation governed by the rule of law, subject of the law and must have respect for the rule of law,” Gutierrez said.