Mike Arroyo withdraws motion to travelBy DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Jose Miguel Arroyo is not leaving the country after all.
The husband of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo hastily withdrew his motion to the antigraft court to allow him to leave for Japan and Hong Kong after the court required him to waive his right to ask for the quashing of his case over the secondhand choppers deal.
As a result, he was not arraigned before the Sandiganbayan’s Second Division on the charge that he sold two used helicopters at brand-new prices to the Philippine National Police in 2009.
His lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, earlier asked the court for a “conditional arraignment” without prejudice to their right to file pleadings to reverse the finding of probable cause.
During the hearing, Topacio asked Sandiganbayan Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos if the rules could be relaxed to accommodate Arroyo, considering that his right to travel was constitutionally protected. Arroyo had said he had accepted invitations to functions in Japan and Hong Kong.
Topacio conceded that what he was asking for was a “slight departure from procedure.”
But Diaz-Baldos wondered if in effect Arroyo’s arraignment would mean he would have already given up his right to question the validity of the graft charge against him through a motion for judicial determination of probable cause.
Topacio noted that the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division had allowed Arroyo to leave for Japan and Hong Kong on June 16. The Fourth Division is hearing his graft case in connection with the canceled national broadband network ZTE Corp. contract.
But Diaz-Baldos pointed out that the case was different because Arroyo had already been arraigned before the Fourth Division.
She then asked Topacio if Arroyo would still wish to be arraigned if this meant waiving his right to file motions seeking to quash the case.
After briefly conferring with his client, Topacio told the court they were withdrawing the motion for leave to travel abroad as they would not want to lose the right to question the basis of the Ombudsman in filing the graft charge.