The Sandiganbayan’s First Division has denied a plea of former President and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga for a furlough to attend the golden wedding anniversary of El Shaddai Leader Mariano “Mike” Velarde and his wife Belen.
In a three-page resolution promulgated on Friday, the anti-graft court noted that Arroyo’s request for the furlough lacks merit because detainees like her cannot be allowed full enjoyment of their rights, be they civil or political.
“The inherent and consequent restraints in some of her rights do not run counter to the constitutional presumption of her innocence, for the rule stands that until a promulgation of final conviction is made, the constitutional mandate of presumption of innocence prevails,” the anti-graft court said in the resolution.
“The court does not share the accused-movant’s submission that the furlough she is asking is one of the privileges she may enjoy as a detention prisoner. On the contrary, the accused-movant’s stance runs counter to the very essence of her detention,” the court added.
The Velarde couple’s golden wedding anniversary is slated July 18 at 3 p.m., the same day that the resolution junking Arroyo’s plea was promulgated.
The lawmaker is under hospital arrest at Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City because of a P366-million plunder charge leveled against her over alleged misuse of intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
Had she been allowed to attend the Velarde wedding, she will stand as one of the principal sponsors alongside former President Joseph Estrada, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and former First Lady Imelda Marcos, among other major political players.
Arroyo had expressed willingness to foot the bill for the additional police security and protection expenses that her furlough would entail, including food, gasoline, communication, as well as the ambulance with life-support medical equipment, nurse, paramedic personnel, certified family doctor and emergency specialists’ service.
The Sandiganbayan’s First Division earlier junked her motion to allow her to celebrate her 67th birthday in her hometown Lubao, Pampanga, last April.