Court holds arrest warrant vs Gloria ArroyoBy Dona Z. Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
No arrest warrant was issued by the Sandiganbayan against former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in connection with the plunder case recently filed against her.
Instead, the antigraft court’s First Division granted Arroyo’s request to suspend hearings until the Office of the Ombudsman had decided on her appeal to dismiss the charges against her.
Associate Justices Efren de la Cruz, Rodolfo Ponferrada and Rafael Lagos signed the six-page resolution issued at 3:45 p.m. on Friday.
Arroyo and nine others have been charged with plunder for the alleged misuse of P360 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds from 2008 to 2010.
The Ombudsman asked the Sandiganbayan antigraft court to issue an arrest warrant for Arroyo after she was freed on bail on Wednesday by Pasay Regional Court Judge Jesus Mupas, who is hearing the electoral sabotage case against the former president.
The antigraft court directed the Ombudsman to give due course to Arroyo’s motion for reconsideration of the Ombudsman’s July 10 decision to file the plunder case.
The case was filed in the Sandiganbayan on July 16.
The others charged with Arroyo were former PCSO chair Sergio Velancia; former general manager Rosario Uriarte; and PCSO directors Manuel Morato, Jose Taruc V, Raymundo Roquero and Ma. Fatima Valdes, and budget officer Benigno Aguas.
Former Commission on Audit Chair Reynaldo Villar and former COA Intelligence Fund Unit head Nilda Plaras were also charged.
In its ruling, the Sandiganbayan upheld the argument of Arroyo’s defense lawyers that the preliminary investigation was incomplete because the charge was filed in the court before they received their copies of the Ombudsman’s decision.
“The filing of a motion for consideration is an integral part of the preliminary investigation proper. There is no dispute that the information was filed without first affording the accused her right to file a motion for reconsideration,” the Sandiganbayan said.
Arroyo’s lawyers said the former president received her copy of the Ombudsman ruling on July 20 and that they filed a motion for reconsideration within the allowed five-day period.