Gloria Arroyo cites Aquino case in her petition for bail

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IRONIC as it is, the camp of former President Gloria Arroyo is raising a Supreme Court (SC) ruling on the case of former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. to persuade the Sandiganbayan to allow her to post bail.

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A new set defense lawyers of the incumbent Pampanga lawmaker cited in her petition for bail a High Court ruling on the case of the ex-lawmaker that allowed the accused to seek medical assistance.

The law office of Flaminiano Arroyo and Dueñas reminded the anti-graft court magistrates that in the case of Francisco de la Rama, the SC looked back on the case of Aquino to allow de la Rama an opportunity to have his tuberculosis treated.

“The Supreme Court noted that ‘in several cases, among them, the cases against Pio Duran and Benigno Aquino,’ the ‘defendants were released on bail on the ground that they were ill,’” Arroyo argued.

The former senator and father of Arroyo’s staunch critic, President Benigno Aquino 3rd, was locked up in New Bilibid Prison but was granted bail because his “continued confinement . . . would be injurious to his health,” the SC cited in the dela Rama vs. The People’s Court ruling.

Arroyo pointed to the de la Rama ruling, which in turn cited the former senator’s case, in asking the Sandiganbayan First Division to allow her to post bail since her degenerative lumbar spine disease and osteoporosis is already taking toll on her health.

Defense lawyer Jose Flaminiano said that even if de la Rama had not suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis and chronic, granular pharyngitis, “Arroyo is equally sick” and deserving of bail.

In early January, Arroyo drew a number of visitors including former Vice President Noli de Castro and retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, who gave Arroyo a rosary as a gift.

“President Arroyo remains ill. [She] is equally sick, her illness, in fact, more serious than the illness from which de la Rama was suffering when the Supreme Court granted him bail,” the defense pleading read.

The defense said that the 66-year-old lawmaker is not a flight risk, in case she would seek medical treatment abroad.

“She has lost weight, and is frail. She has no intention of living the life of a fugitive and her condition precludes her from living [that way],” the defense said.

In fact, her strength and support comes from her family who are all in the Philippines, notwithstanding that she is easily recognizable, “making it impossible for her to depart from any airport or port,” the defense added.

To date, Dr. Antonio Sison, Arroyo’s spine surgeon at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, said that his patient is only temporarily relieved by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers and physiotherapy, despite “three years of hospital confinement and still no significant improvement” in sight.

“It is recommended that she should be exposed to a different environment for overall wellness and holistic treatment,” the doctor said in an updated medical bulletin attached to the pleading.

Besides pressing the Sandiganbayan that Arroyo’s poor health deserves opportunity to post bail, her lawyers said that their client’s participation in the P366-million plunder of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office intelligence fund lacks strong evidence, which should prompt the anti-graft court magistrates to revisit their earlier resolution denying her of temporary liberty.

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