SC halts GMA plunder trial

13
 Arroyo

Arroyo

The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday issued a status quo ante order stopping for 30 days the plunder trial of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.

The case involves the allegedly anomalous disbursement of the intelligence fund of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) amounting to P365 million during Arroyo’s term as President.

The SC also ordered the Sandiganbayan 1st Division to comment on Arroyo’s petition for certiorari, which was filed by her legal counsel, former Solicitor-General Estelito Mendoza.
In her 124-page petition, Arroyo asked the High Court to schedule oral arguments on the case and suspend the plunder trial.

She also asked the SC to set aside and nullify resolutions of the Sandiganbayan dated April 6, 2015 and September 10, 2015, which dismissed the “demurrer to evidence” she had filed.


Except for Arroyo, the Sandiganbayan has allowed her co-accused in the case, namely former PCSO General Manager and Vice Chairman Rosario Uriarte, former Board Directors Manuel Morato, Jose Taruc, Raymundo Roquero and Ma. Fatima Valdes, as well as former Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Reynaldo Villar, to post bail for their temporary release.

Because of this, Arroyo argued that the denial by the Sandiganbayan of her “demurrer to evidence” is contrary to the principle of “equal justice” since there was no enough evidence to pin her down in the case.

She further argued that if the 637 documentary exhibits of the prosecution and testimonies presented by the prosecution’s 21 witnesses will be made as basis, they have failed to prove that she has “pocketed” even a single centavo from the PCSO fund, which was allegedly anomalously utilized.

The former leader earlier contested before the High Court the Sandiganbayan’s denial of her bail, saying the anti-graft court committed grave abuse of discretion when it denied her bail application on the ground that the evidence of her guilt is strong.

Arroyo, however, insisted that she is still entitled to bail.

She argued too that her continued detention has resulted in impairment of her health, and she is demonstrably not a flight risk.

The 68-year-old Arroyo, currently detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, is suffering from degenerative bone diseases. She has had three major cervical spine surgeries; and was having difficulty in ingesting food, which has led to her significant weight loss.

Arroyo’s lawyers filed a petition for bail in January 2013 and a supplemental motion for bail in October of that year.

In November 2013, however, the Sandiganbayan denied her bail petition, prompting Arroyo in February 2014 to seek reconsideration, which was turned down in April 2014.

In her eight-page supplemental motion for reconsideration submitted by her lawyers in February 2014, Arroyo claimed that she deserves temporary freedom because of her health condition.

Her lawyers said their petition should be taken separately from their earlier bail petitions, which attacked the “weakness and insufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence.”
They added that Arroyo is “not a flight risk.”

“The possibility of President Arroyo’s escape, bearing in mind her official and social standing and her other personal circumstances, is remote, if not nil,” the petition read.

UN ruling binds Malacañang
A ruling of the United Nations in Arroyo’s favor binds Malacañang, but not the courts, a retired Supreme Court justice told The Manila Times also on Tuesday.

The ruling made two weeks ago by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said the former Philippine leader’s continued detention is illegal and, therefore, she should be released immediately.

According to the retired magistrate, who agreed to be interviewed on condition of anonymity, the UN ruling is binding with the executive department since the Philippines was a signatory to the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

While it is true that it does not bind the courts in the Philippines, the retired justice said, it is the duty of the executive department to inform the courts of such a ruling.

“The UN ruling is non-binding with the courts in the Philippines but it binds the executive department. Therefore, it is the duty of the executive to inform the courts of such a ruling,” the retired justice pointed out.

It was argued that the courts can be informed only through its representative in the courts, the prosecutor, who is part of the executive department.

The UN ruling prompted Arroyo to seek refuge with the SC in connection with the plunder case filed against her and several others before the Sandiganbayan for approving the release of more than P365 million in Confidential Intelligence Funds of the PCSO during her term as President.

“Mrs. Arroyo was denied bail on grounds that are not compatible with international law; she did not benefit from the presumption in favor of bail; she was denied bail exclusively on the basis of the alleged strength of evidence against her; measures alternative to pre-trial detention were not considered and there were undue delays in considering her bail position in the proceedings against her as a whole,” the ruling said.

“Accordingly, the UN recommended the reconsideration of Mrs. Arroyo’s application for bail in accordance with the relevant international human rights standards.”

Share.
.
Loading...

Please follow our commenting guidelines.

13 Comments

  1. Vindictive, PNoy is and he uses all the powers available to his office to exact vengeance against Gloria and the people around her. The Mamasapano incident and the DAP shall bring him down along with Roxas,his stooge, and when it happens it shall be payback time for all the wrongdoings he and his cohorts have done, wrongdoings he masks with rosy pronouncements about the economy and a graft-free slate. He even has the gumption to pontificate on the justices of the supreme Court. His success in getting Corona impeached has gotten to his head. One of these days, he’ll cast caution to the wind and that will be his undoing.

  2. Anong pakinabang kung pahintuin nila ang kaso? MAKAKALAYA BA SI ARROYO kahit pangsamantala habang nakahito ito? paano ba nila tatapusin ang isang kaso?kung bago na ba ang pangulo o kung patay na ang kianakasohan?
    Anong hustisya meron tayo?Ito ba ang pinagsusunugan ng kilay ng mga mag-aaral para makatapos ng abogasya, ang dumepende sa nakakasakop sa kanila?

  3. Daniel B.Laurente on

    Using the title retired magistrate is a way to put a pressure to SC that the opinon emitted from one them but retired. Why not use instead a simple prefix sach as “Mr.” or “Atty”.

  4. The plunder against GMA lack the necessary evidence of personal gain against the accused. It could probably fall under technical malversation but it was only a personal crusade of Pnoy against GMA that led to this. When Pnoy steps down on June 30 2016 same thing will happen to him and he will be shouting of political persecution that no one will hear.

  5. 365 million is a large amount to plunder. There definitely was a conspiracy. Equal justice should be uphold.

    • Indeed it is plunder since the amount involved is already over 50 million. However, another prerequisite for plunder is to prove that the accused has benefited from the amount that was amassed. Something that the prosecution failed to do after 4 years since the hearing of the case started. This is a clear case of “Justice delayed is justice denied”. And if there is a conspiracy among the accused to amass such an amount of money, why were her co-accused released and only GMA was denied bail? It is clear that only one is being targeted.

    • Banyagang Makabayan on

      If indeed 365 billion is plundered, How could anyone in a GO/NGO ever easily formulate a credit advice/instrument if favor of any individual/s without any board or department approval? How could ever anyone hide such a huge amount? Could any plunderer so hypnotic that could make anyone obey such sinister act? Could the alleged plunderer easily divide such a huge amount in millions and skirted them out of the country or deposit them online without being verified by banks overseas? Or is it that easy to build or buy a vault and hide them so quickly? Where is our expert record seeking AMLA to dig deep into this? Maybe I really have a small mind to grasp the idea of how could this happened? I have also only a small request to anyone who possess genius and a beautiful mind, “Prove It”

  6. Regardless of how the High Court shall rule upon the action,if the Supreme Court does apply the principle of equal justice then maybe we can hope that the last true bastion of democracy and defender of the Constitution still stands.

  7. It looks like the SC will act and make the courts follow the law. Bail will be allowed and soon the case will be dismissed.

  8. PNoy’s hatred towards Aling Gloria is already part of his persona, already part of his human cell. Mrs. Arroyo cannot expect anything fair while PNoy is in charge.

  9. Ergo: The continuous detention of Mrs. Arroyo is “purely” political, proving that the “tuwid na daan” is amoral, insensitive, divisive and vindictive.

    • francoalminolibre on

      if the release of pcso funds without proving how it was misspent is plunder, then the unauthorized release of funds thru saro for dap funding not authorize by law is also plunder.