PLACING former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo back in detention over new plunder charges would be “oppressive” if not “cruel,” her lawyer Estelito Mendoza said, a day after the now Pampanga representative regained her freedom.
Mendoza told reporters in a news conference it was “shocking” that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who just lost her plunder case against Arroyo at the Supreme Court, was mulling new charges to put the former President in jail anew.
“What the Ombudsman wants to do is that when she (Arroyo) is acquitted and walks free, she will immediately handcuff her, put her to jail again. I do not think there can be anything more oppressive than that, if not cruel,” Mendoza said.
Arroyo was released from hospital arrest on Thursday after the Supreme Court acquitted her from a plunder case over the alleged misuse of P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds covering the years 2008 to 2010.
But there is a pending complaint against Arroyo at the office of the Ombudsman in connection with PCSO intelligence funds covering the earlier period of 2004 to 2007.
Morales said in a press briefing on Wednesday that the complaint was under preliminary investigation.
Laurence Arroyo (not related), who is one of the former President’s legal counsels, said they have filed their counter-affidavit to the complaint.
Plunder, an offense punishable by life imprisonment, is not bailable as a matter of right but bailable in the court’s discretion when evidence of guilt is not strong.
When asked if Arroyo plans to file countercharges as a result of her acquittal, Mendoza said: “I do not know, you have to ask [her]. But I don’t think she has gotten to think even about this. She has been preoccupied about her release.”
Arroyo had been detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) since 2012 over the plunder case.
Arroyo went straight home to her La Vista Subdivision residence in Quezon City from the VMMC on Thursday, and then stayed overnight at St. Luke’s Medical Center for an executive check-up.
The lawyer Arroyo clarified that the medical examination was not specifically regarding the former President’s cervical spondylosis, a condition of wear and tear affecting spinal disks in the neck.
“Not yet, just routine executive check-ups for now because she has been detained here for four years so it’s about time that she underwent an executive check-up,” he said.
The tests included a chest x-ray and 2D echo.
One of the former leader’s lawyers, former Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera, described Arroyo’s cholesterol as “remarkably high” and said that it “bears watching.”