Sereno, Clerk of Court fail to issue SC ruling to Sandiganbayan
POLICE escorts were ready and well-wishers have gathered in anticipation of her homecoming.
But former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had to remain in her detention cell at the
Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City on Wednesday because her release papers were held up at the Supreme Court (SC).
This was despite the clear wording of Tuesday’s 11-4 decision of the high tribunal that the acquittal and freedom of Arroyo shall be “immediately executory.”
Defense lawyer Laurence Arroyo (not related to the former President) came out of the Supreme Court building in Manila empty-handed, and conceded that his client would have to wait longer for her release.
Another Arroyo lawyer, Raul Lambino, said: “We can’t understand what’s causing the delay.”
Only a notice containing the one-paragraph “dispositive portion” was all that’s needed for the Sandiganbayan to issue Arroyo’s release papers, Lambino argued.
Agreement not followed?
Unimpeachable sources at the high court told The Manila Times the SC justices had an agreement that the release be done immediately.
Since the ruling states that the acquittal and release of Arroyo from detention shall be “immediately executory,” the SC justices agreed that the dispositive portion of the decision should be brought immediately to the Sandiganbayan, and that there was no more need to wait for the thick official decision and separate opinions.
The notice was to be signed by the SC en banc Clerk of Court, Felipa Anama, the sources said.
“Makapal ang decision at `yung separate opinions. Kung aantayin pa ang full decision talagang tatagal ang release ni GMA (Arroyo). Ang agreement naman `yung dispositive portion muna ang ipadala kasi nga immediately executory `yung decision [The decision and the separate opinions are thick. If we wait for the full decision, Arroyo’s release will really be delayed. The agreement was that the dispositive portion be released ahead because the decision is immediately executory],” an SC source said.
The Manila Times learned that after the 12 noon voting on Tuesday of the SC en banc that cleared Arroyo, and the announcement of results by Theodore Te, the SC spokesman, at 2 p.m., there was no action at all from the office of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to issue the Notice of the Dispositive Portion.
On Tuesday, Sereno left her office earlier than the 5 p.m. close of business, it was learned.
“Halata namang dine-delay ni Meilou (Sereno’s nickname) `yung release. Kasi talo nga siya sa kaso (It’s obvious Sereno is delaying the release, because she lost in the vote,” another SC source said.
Sereno was among the four dissenters who blocked the acquittal of Arroyo. The three others are Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Marvic Leonen and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.
Aside from the ponencia of Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin that won in the voting, other separate opinions were authored: the concurring opinion of Associate Justice Arturo Brion, the concurring and dissenting opinion of Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and the dissenting opinions of Leonen and Sereno.
Te, however clarified that there was no delay.
“There is a process that is followed for all decisions. That is the process that is being followed here,” Te said.
The defense counsel, Laurence Arroyo, said he was told the main decision needed to be circulated among the justices for their signatures.
On Wednesday, police were seen securing the veterans’ hospital ahead of Arroyo’s expected release.
Arroyo supporters from the urban poor gathered at the hospital’s Gate 1, holding up cardboards, one of which said: “Maligayang Paglaya GMA.”
Ramon de Leon, who identified himself as president of the Kongreso ng Maralitang Pilipino, said the public was able to know through the SC ruling that Arroyo committed no offense.
“That is why we ask those who detained our former President, you detained her even if she was innocent, have conscience,” de Leon said in Filipino.
He added that Arroyo’s tormentors should be jailed.