A legal expert on Saturday said the Supreme Court will likely acquit former president and reelected Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the plunder charges filed against her in connection with the alleged misuse of the confidential and intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
Antonio Abad, former dean of the Far Eastern University Institute of Law and Adamson Unity College of Law, said he is confident that the High Court will grant the former president’s petition for demurrer to evidence.
A demurrer to evidence is a motion asking the court to dismiss a complaint for lack of sufficient evidence.
Abad said Arroyo’s continued detention despite the acquittal of her co-accused in the case is a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
“I believe that she will be acquitted by the Supreme Court because her plunder case is predicated on conspiracy so therefore there being conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all. Now kung isa pinakawalan mo, dapat lahat pakawalan (If you release one of the accused, then all the accused should be released) but in this particular case lahat ng members ng Board ng PCSO e acquitted e bakit naman si GMA natira? That is why there is an unequal dispensation of justice. A violation of the equal protection law of the Constitution,” he told reporters.
While her co-accused had been acquitted, Arroyo, who is suffering from a debilitating spine illness, has been under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) since 2012.
Arroyo has elevated her case to the SC and recent reports indicated that her case had been calendared by the High Court but the issuance of a resolution had been deferred.
Abad, a close friend of the Cojuangco family, said he neither personally knew Arroyo nor support her. But he said he decided to speak out because he could not take the violations of the rule of law by the Sandiganbayan.
“Ever since nakikita ko na mali ang ginagawa ng Sandiganbayan kaya ako naman lumalabas (I have seen the error of the Sandiganbayan so I decided to come out). It’s not because I like her or I’m her lawyer but because as a lawyer I need to speak out because there is here a violation of the rule of law,” he explained.
Abad dismissed insinuations that President Rodrigo Duterte will convince the SC to grant Arroyo’s appeal and acquit her.
He said it was a good move on the part of Arroyo to decline Duterte’s offer of pardon because it would be an implied admission of guilt.
“It (the offer of pardon) was a personal feeling perhaps of Duterte in the same manner as GMA pardoned (former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada) Erap. But Erap was convicted first before he was pardoned. Itong kay GMA, the case is still pending. A pardon cannot be extended until an accused is convicted,” Abad said.