Arroyo bail ruling: Lacierda passes the buck to Comelec


Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Like the rest of the country, Malacañang was taken aback by the decision of Judge Jesus Mupas of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court to grant the petition for bail of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

However, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda lost no time in passing the buck to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), which filed the case for electoral sabotage against the former President on Nov. 18, 2011.

“It’s Comelec that filed the case, not us,” said Lacierda in briefing at the Palace.

He also invoked the separation of powers between the executive and judiciary to explain the unfortunate turn of events for the two-year-old Aquino administration, which has made the prosecution of Arroyo as the centerpiece of its anticorruption drive.

Lacierda said that the executive had no control over the workings of judiciary.

Although its most precious detainee is now out on bail, the Aquino administration still vowed that the “fight against corruption continues,” with Lacierda citing the plunder case recently filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against Arroyo in connection with the misuse of P366-million funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

“And that’s the reason why there is a PCSO case still before the Sandiganbayan. This will not dampen our resolve to file and to continue to institute corruption cases against responsible officials,” said Lacierda, adding:

“So let’s see, anyway Mrs. Arroyo still has a (pending plunder) case.”

At the Palace briefing, reporters repeatedly raised the issue of the weak evidence submitted by the Comelec to Mupas, which was cited by the judge to justify the issuance of a release order for Arroyo Wednesday.

Quoting Mupas, Lacierda said: “Apparently, according to the judge, the evidence against the accused is weak.”

But Lacierda was quick to pass the buck to the poll body, saying:

“I would not be able to admit that (it was weak) because we were not involved in the resolution of that case. Apparently, it was a case filed by the Comelec. And, based on the joint DOJ (Department of Justice)-Comelec study, they found that there was a probable cause.

“Now, the judge has made a decision with respect to the granting of bail, not necessarily on the merits. So we don’t know yet how it will proceed further down the road.”

Asked about the President’s reaction, Lacierda said that Aquino was presiding a meeting at Palace while the briefing was ongoing.

“He is presently in a meeting right now, so I wasn’t able to talk to him. But I will assume that he already knows the information,” said Lacierda.

Asked if Malacañang had expected the RTC to reject the petition of the former President, Lacierda said: “When I say I was surprised, it was, in fact, that there was news on that. Whether it was granted or whether it was not granted, I would still be surprised because we were not following the case. So the surprise wasn’t because the decision was granting the petition, but I was surprised because it came out today.”

‘Move on’

“We recognize the jurisdiction of the court. It was based on a review by Judge (Jesus) Mupas on the petition (for bail),” said Lacierda, adding:

“When a case was filed already before the courts, of course, there’s always a 50-50 chance that it would be granted, it would not be granted. So when we heard today (Wednesday), this morning, that the court granted the petition for bail, all we have to do is just recognize that it happened, so we move on.”

Seeing a silver lining to this latest legal debacle, Lacierda said that this proved the independence of the judiciary from any interference by Malacañang.

He said Aquino was elected “to uphold the law.”

“Certainly, we respect the independence of the judiciary in this case and the fact that she has been allowed to leave the hospital is proof positive of our respect for the judiciary,” said Lacierda.

He also expected Arroyo to be back at the VMMC in no time.

“There is nothing that bars the former President from leaving the hospital detention other than the fact that, should the Sandiganbayan issue a warrant of arrest against the former President, then she will have to be confined again or detained again based on a valid judicial order,” he said.

Lacierda also assuaged fears that this could deal a fatal blow to the administration’s campaign promise to make Arroyo accountable for alleged illegal acts done during nine years of crises-wracked presidency.

“Remember, there are two cases right now pending before the courts. One is the PCSO case (for plunder) which is before the Sandiganbayan—which, I understand, the court has already issued an HDO or a hold departure order; that’s what I have heard—the one that was filed by the Ombudsman.

“The other case (on electoral sabotage) was filed by Comelec. So we will leave it with the courts, we will leave it with the prosecution, with the Comelec and with the Ombudsman to prosecute the cases,” he said.

He denied that the issuance of HDO by the Sandiganbayan was not timed to make sure that the former President would not jump bail and leave the country.

“I think it would be too presumptuous for us because we have no say, we have no discretion, we have no control over the judiciary. And I think the Sandiganbayan would … take umbrage on the assumption that we had any say on the issuance by the Sandiganbayan justices of that HDO,” said Lacierda.

He also belied claims that the Palace could pressure Comelec to appeal Mupas’ decision because the poll body was a “separate constitutional office,” adding:

“We don’t know what actions (Comelec) Chairman (Sixto) Brillantes would take. But, again, what our President is saying (is) the fact Judge Mupas allowed (Arroyo) to post bail shows the independence of the judiciary. … so that should be settled. That issue that we are going to control the judiciary, obviously that is not true.”

At least, Lacierda said Arroyo could not accuse the government of maltreatment while at VMMC.

“While she was in hospital detention, she was a ward of the state because we took care of her in the hospital. So Attorney Ferdie Topacio said that now that she is out, she can seek medical treatment wherever she wants to,” said Lacierda.

The government has lined up other cases against Arroyo, but Lacierda said he was “not at liberty to disclose” them. He, however, hinted that the Sandiganbayan case was a “strong case.”

“You must remember that the Ombudsman is very, very strict when it comes to appreciation of evidence. There have been instances—I have mentioned this prior—that the Ombudsman has dismissed some of the charges against the former President or she has diminished the charge against the former President. In her estimation, when she decided to file a case of plunder against the former President, I would assume—and this is my own assumption based on her history of filing, dismissing, and diminishing charges against government officials—I would assume that this is a strong case otherwise she would not have pursued this case against the former President,” he said.

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  • magiting78

    Malakanyan wag na kau makialam sa kaso ni GMA, hayaan nyo n yan sa mga departamento n nkksakop sa mga kaso. Atupagin nyo yung ibang mga problema

  • bentot

    hayan na nga ba ang sinasabi ko ! sa tinagal tagal ni De Lima sa puesto niya wala siya ginawa kundi magpataba ! ayaw asikasuhin ang kaso ni gloria puro pagpapa-cute at pangarap pa mag chief justice ! bukas malamang nasa abroad na si gloria ! bwahahahaha !!!!!!! bwiset talaga itong si de lima

  • ely

    hahahah bastos na malacanang at KKK….

    Pag FAILURE sinisisi sa iba…

    Pag pabor sa kanila ang bilis nilang mag pa PRESSCON…

    BASTOS!!! lacierda naliligo ka ba?

  • Al Calde

    what happen to corona now that he is impeached? Are we stopping here?

  • Jon

    However, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda lost no time in
    passing the buck to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), which filed
    the case for electoral sabotage against the former President on Nov. 18,

    Sisihan nanaman?
    Noong SONA puro kayo bida at kayo lang ang guapo.
    Ngayon na sablay turo agad sa COMELEC.
    Gasgas na gasgas na yang parating palusot ninyo.

  • rising_phoenix40

    Michael Lim Ubac, kailan pa naging acceptable sa news lead ang phrase na “like the rest of country?”

  • Maldi2

    Di to dapat ikakagulat.  Dapat matagal ng nakalaya si GMA, The accusations are all but political and will never stand in any legal ground.

  • Cal_Reznick

    How can they say that everyone in the country is surprised that the former President was granted bail and is now free?

    The case was obviously weak from the beginning and nothing changed up till now. You need not quote what the judge says as if its just an opinion that “the evidence against the accused is weak.” The Administration had to have known that the case was weak if not then they are ill-equipped for such position. But the truth is they have a personal vendetta against the former President and would do all they can to put her in jail even if it means wasting the Filipino people’s money with baseless and pointless cases.

    Now instead of this Administration stepping up by focusing on the real problems of the country, oppose to unnecessary vendettas, what does they do?…they point fingers and wash hands and say its not their case, its not their fault…etc…and continue to suggest that the former President will go back to jail.

    I mean, who knows what will transpire but its clear that these cases lack merit and lack evidence can we get over it and truly move on. Going after the former President is getting old and its getting more pointless by the day. Better to use her as an ally to help solve the countries’ problems oppose to using her as a false excuse for the countries’ problems.

    At the very least that would save the Philippines money from filing more pointless cases and allow the Administration to have more time and help in bettering the nation.

  • Allspark Engine

    Inutil, ungas, at manggagamit. 
    Yan si AbNoynoy, anak ni Cory. 

    Magbabayad ka sa bayan, lang hiya ka. Ikaw at mga Noytard.

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