GMA urged Sandigan for family time on Christmas

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FORMER President and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga province will not aspire anymore to leave the confines of the hospital this coming Yuletide.

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In her 10-page urgent motion scheduled to be heard on Thursday, the former president seemed to have a final decision of not seeking for a prison furlough anymore despite gains of support for her temporary leave at the House of Representatives.

The defense dropped any plan for the present lawmaker to go out of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, where she is presently detained for the non-bailable plunder charge she is facing over the P366-million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office controversy.

Instead, lawyers Anacleto Diaz and Maria Rosario del Rosario asked the anti-graft court to order the Philippine Security and Protection Group (PSPG) to relax its security control on Arroyo.

On December 9, the PSPG furnished the defense team a copy of the amended close-in security protocol of Arroyo’s hospital arrest.

The defense complained that the police enforced “stricter measures” for visitors, who are not allowed to stay beyond 9:30 in the evening.

“All visitors including members of [Arroyo’s] immediate family and legal team shall leave the Presidential Suite and its immediate vicinity not later than 9:30 pm. Nobody shall be allowed to stay overnight,” the police issuance read.

Arroyo and counsels appealed before the PSPG for a longer time in the police protocol, citing that the presence of Arroyo’s family is instrumental in the upliftment of her continuous deteriorating physical and medical condition.

The defense, quoting Drs. Martha Nucum and Celestino Dalisay, said that former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo should be allowed to stay overnight “on such days as the PSPG may deem fit” to provide conjugal support and emotional stability.

Arroyo’s immediate family must also be allowed to spend more time with her because they have their respective families and livelihood to attend to, “thereby constraining them to devote only their after-office hours from 6:30 pm onwards to visit her.”

However, since word reached the defense team that the PSPG will not uphold Arroyo’s appeal, Arroyo’s counsels wanted the Sandiganbayan to override the police’ decision.

They sought the approval of the Sandiganbayan to allow the family members of Arroyo to stay “for the whole day” of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

“Like all members of closely-knit Filipino families, [Arroyo wants to] be able to spend quality time with the members of her immediate family,” the pleading read.

The defense argued that the Pampanga lawmaker should not be treated as a prisoner but as a patient who needs proper and suitable medical treatment because her “illnesses remain uncured to date.”

Earlier this month, Rep. Silvestre Bello III of 1-BAP party-list filed House Resolution No. 537, which requested the Sandiganbayan to grant Arroyo a “furlough for humanitarian and compassionate considerations.”

But a furlough seemed not anymore the plan of the defense since last year the Sandiganbayan, in a December 19, 2012 resolution, denied her of it, saying that she “must be treated as an ordinary detention prisoner.”
JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON

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