Arroyo welcome to attend SONA – BelmonteBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines — Will former president and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo show up for President Benigno Aquino III’s third state of the nation address if she is allowed to post bail?
If she would turn up, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said that she will be welcomed to the event by her fellow lawmakers.
He said that she is welcome in the SONA as any other member of the House of Representatives. “Why not? [If] she’s not under detention by court order at that time, she should be welcome here.”
“Peoples’ House ito (This is the people’s House),” Belmonte said. “We live with one another–with people of different ideas–and I as the Speaker here, [my] style of leadership really is to be as fair as possible to everybody and give everybody a chance to be heard.”
According to Belmonte, no one in the House should be marginalized even if they are part of the opposition.
“[If they belong to the opposition] in terms of legislation, in terms of voicing the other side and so forth and so on, [but] outside of that they are our colleagues here and we want to treat all of them basically in the same way,” he said.
The former president’s petition for bail on her charges of electoral sabotage for allegedly rigging the 2007 elections in Maguindanao is pending with the Pasay Regional Trial Court.
Asked about the possibility of Arroyo’s petition for bail after former Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos was allowed to do so for a similar case, minority leader Danilo Suarez said that they were hopeful it would happen.
But asked whether Belmonte will grant Arroyo travel authority to seek medical attention abroad if she succeeds in posting bail, he said that she will have to prove to the court handling her case that she really needs to go outside the country for medical treatment.