Arroyo may get re-elected due to ‘special’ ties with constituents–BelmonteBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines — Despite her poor health condition and her recent arrest, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo might still be re-elected in the second district of Pampanga, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Thursday night.
He told reporters that even with the prospect of failing to campaign in person for the upcoming midterm elections, “she has a special relationship with the people of her district. I think even if she were unable to campaign she still has a very good chance.”
Arroyo may not be able to meet with her constituents once the campaign period for the 2013 midterm polls commences due to a recent arrest order for charges of plunder from the Sandiganbayan First Division. She has been charged with plunder for the alleged misuse of P366 million intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and has spent overnight in detention at the Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center.
The VMMC is where the former President was detained back when she was arrested for charges of electoral sabotage last year. She was recently freed on bail following almost eight months of imprisonment at the government hospital.
Asked whether there was something fishy in the timing of the Sandiganbayan’s issuance of an arrest warrant, the day after Arroyo filed her certificate of candidacy at a Comelec office in San Fernando, Pampanga, Belmonte responded “the court proceedings are not one-sided. Both sides were heard and we cannot say that the decision was made in haste.”
He further mentioned that it was only appropriate that the warrant of arrest was served in private on Thursday while the Pampanga lawmaker was being treated for her ailment at the VMMC. “There’s no intention to make a spectacle out of it or to embarrass her in any way. The whole process can be done in private.”
Belmonte echoed House minority leader Danilo Suarez’s suggestion to the anti-graft court that hospital arrest be considered for Arroyo instead of allowing her transfer to a regular detention facility. “I think that’s exactly where she should be kept. She’s really become quite frail according to reports and I myself don’t want her anywhere else other than the VMMC where medical assistance is readily available.”