The House of Representatives Committee on Justice is poised to adopt a proposed resolution backing calls to place former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo under house arrest.
Iloilo Rep Niel Tupas, Jr. chairman of the House justice committee, made the announcement after his panel conducted a hearing on proposed House Resolution 1908 authored by 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello 3rd.
“Based on the sentiments of those who attended the last hearing of the Committee, they are in favor of the resolution for humanitarian reasons,” Tupas said in a text message to The Manila Times.
The former president has been under “hospital detention” since November 2012 after she was charged with plunder.
Arroyo was initially arrested in November 2011 after she was indicted for electoral fraud. She was held at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City under charges of electoral sabotage, but was released on bail in July 2012.
Dasmariñas City Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, a member of the House justice panel, argued than more than the humanitarian reasons, the continued detention of the former President is standing on shaky legal grounds since her co-accused were allowed to post bail.
“As a lawyer and based on the criminal charges filed against her, former President Arroyo is entitled not merely to a house arrest but even to bail because the criminal charges are predicated on conspiracy so basic is the rule that the act of one conspirator is deemed to be the act of all,” Barzaga said.
“If one co-conspirator is given the right to bail, then the other co-conspirators must also be accorded the same right. I do not see any rhyme or reason for the denial to grant bail to the former president,” Barzaga added.
Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, also a member of the House justice panel member agreed that the state has already ran out of reasons.
“I am confident that the committee will adopt the Resolution to call for the house arrest of former President Arroyo because there is not even a probability that she will evade the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Besides, her co-accused were granted bail. Her continued detention is not strengthening our judicial system, but merely reinforces the perception that our judicial system can be influenced by the political wind,” Batocabe said in a separate message.
“And should her health fail, the last thing the President [Benigno Aquino 3rd] needs is another blood in his hands,” Batocabe added.
But even if the said resolution eventually get the backing of the House of Representatives, the decision lies with the Sandiganbayan or the anti-graft court.