Sandiganbayan urged to consider hospital arrest for ArroyoBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines — A close ally of embattled former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday urged the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court to consider hospital arrest for the ailing lawmaker, following its issuance of an arrest warrant Thursday.
House minority leader Danilo Suarez said it would be best for Arroyo to be detained in the government-owned Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center instead of being transferred to a regular jail, due to her poor health condition. He said he was thinking of discussing the issue with Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. who in a recent in interview with the media said that he felt Arroyo should stay at the VMMC due to her failing health.
Belmonte said members of the House of Representatives could be arrested for major cases and went on clarifying a provision exempting them from arrest only applies to “petty offenses with a penalty of six years and below.”
“It isn’t true that you cannot arrest a member of Congress. That’s just for petty offenses with a penalty of six years and below–it does not apply to major cases and no member of Congress has actually, not within this time anyway, sought to apply that provision,” added Belmonte.
And although he sympathizes with the Arroyos at what must be a challenging time for their family, he said that what was happening was part of the processes of the country’s justice system.
The former President has been suffering from ailments after three major surgeries to treat a pinched nerve in her neck. She recently sought alternative modes of treatment after suffering from complications from her surgeries.
Arroyo, who has been in and out of the VMMC for therapy, was placed under arrest by the authorities inside the presidential suite of the said government hospital. This was the same facility where she was imprisoned for roughly eight months on charges of electoral sabotage.
Plunder, unlike Arroyo’s earlier charges on electoral sabotage, is non-bailable.
The Pampanga representative was arrested the day after she filed her certificate of candidacy at a Comelec office in San Fernando, Pampanga. She is hoping to be re-elected in the second district of the province.