Former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will remain under hospital arrest even after the Court of Appeals (CA) allowed her to post bail in a poll-fraud case.
The CA recently affirmed its March 2015 ruling allowing Arroyo to post bail in the electoral-sabotage complaint filed against her by the Justice department as the appellate court denied a motion for reconsideration filed by the prosecution.
“This will have no effect on the bail petition in the PCSO [Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office] case. The issues are different,” her lawyer, Laurence Arroyo, told The Manila Times.
Arroyo is facing a P366-million plunder case over alleged misuse of state charity funds during her presidency before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s First Division.
Being an offense punishable by life imprisonment, plunder is a non-bailable offense as a matter of right, but bailable in the court’s discretion when evidence of guilt is not strong, the lawyer said.
The anti-graft court has consistently denied her bail petition, citing strong evidence against the former president.
After exhausting all remedies before the Sandiganbayan, Arroyo’s camp elevated her bail petition to the Supreme Court (SC) on April 21, 2015.
It is hoping that the SC will resolve the petition within this year.
If their petition is granted, the former leader’s lawyers will no longer pursue their plea for house arrest.
Arroyo is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, and is asking the Sandiganbayan to place her under house arrest either at her La Vista home in the same city or in her hometown in Lubao, Pampanga.
The SC’s decision to grant Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s bail petition will help Arroyo’s bid for her provisional freedom in the plunder case, her lawyer said.
“I think it will help the petition of former President Arroyo which is also pending before the Supreme Court because I think they are similarly situated,” defense lawyer Laurence Arroyo told reporters last August.
Enrile, 91, is facing a P172-million plunder case in connection with the pork barrel scam.
The former president was charged along with former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Jr. and former election officer Lintang Bedol for allegedly staging a 12-0 victory in Maguindanao province for the administration’s bets in the 2007 senatorial polls.
In its decision last March 24, the CA said the government has a weak case against Arroyo.
When sought for comment on the CA’s upholding of the March ruling, Rep. Silvestre Bello of 1-BAP party-list who served as Justice secretary during the Arroyo administration told The Manila Times in a text message, “The position of the CA is based on law and facts. There is no case vs. FPGMA [former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo].