• Family to join Arroyo at Veterans for Christmas, New Year


    The Sandiganbayan has allowed the family of detained former president Gloria Arroyo to spend four days with her during Christmas and New Year’s.

    The graft court on Thursday granted a petition from Arroyo to let her family join her from December 24 to 25 and December 31 to January 1.
    It said it was granting the petition on humanitarian grounds.

    Arroyo, who is also a congressman from Pampanga, is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City while awaiting trial for plunder.

    Arroyo and former budget and accounts manager Benigno Aguas of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) are accused of allegedly misusing the agency’s P366-million intelligence funds.

    In June, the Sandiganbayan First Division allowed former PCSO President Sergio Valencia and board members Manuel Morato and Raymundo Roquero temporary freedom.

    Arroyo, through her lawyer Anacleto Diaz, dropped any plan of asking for any prison furlough this year after the Sandiganbayan denied it last year.

    She only asked this year that the Philippine National Police (PNP) relax its rule to allow her family members to stay overnight.

    All visitors must leave the hospital’s presidential suite by 9:30 p.m.
    Because the PNP is not likely to grant Arroyo’s request, her lawyer elevated the request to the Sandiganbayan.

    The court directed Arroyo to submit to the PNP’s Police Security Protection Group a day before December 24 the list of the family members who will be staying in her quarters.

    Associate Justices Efren de la Cruz, Rodolfo Ponferrada and Rafael Lagos issued the order after the hearing on the motion on Thursday.

    Malacañang welcomed the Sandiganbayan decision to let Arroyo’s family join her during the holidays.

    ”We are very happy that the Sandiganbayan has allowed former president Arroyo to celebrate Christmas and New Year with her family,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., said in a news briefing.

    With A Report From Catherine S. Valente


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