MANILA, Philippines—Allies of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo deplored the Sandiganbayan’s rejection of her request for a holiday furlough, saying her circumstances made her request a reasonable one.
Minority Leader Danilo Suarez has insisted that Arroyo, who is ill, is not a flight or security risk at all. She is also a former President of the country and an incumbent lawmaker who, while facing plunder and graft charges, has not been convicted of any crime, according to Suarez.
“She has not been proven to have done wrong. She is still an accused. It’s not like she’s the head of the military and poses a security risk,” Suarez said in a press briefing.
He also said Arroyo should fulfill her duty to visit her district in Pampanga, which she would like to visit during her furlough.
Arroyo’s allies in the House, some 23 lawmakers, visited Arroyo for a simple get-together on Tuesday, Suarez also disclosed.
He said Arroyo looked thin and frail, and appeared to be still bothered by her neck. While she was not wearing her neck brace during the gathering, she was continually touching her neck, he added.
He also said the former President asked the lawmakers about events in their districts, and wondered about the final House vote on the reproductive health bill. The final vote changed with a drastic reduction of negative votes compared to the second-reading vote.
Arroyo also gave out letters to her allies to thank them for continuing to stand by her all this time, said Suarez.
“She said if there’s anything that could make her somewhat lose her pain for being prosecuted, there are still some few friends who stood with her,” he said.
This is the second Christmas that Arroyo will spend in detention at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center.
In 2011, Arroyo spent the holidays at the hospital because of her non-bailable electoral sabotage charge.
She was granted bail for this case and released in July. But in October, she was again ordered arrested for her plunder case stemming from the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds.
She has been allowed to stay at the VMMC because of her ill health.
She has undergone surgery on her spine for cervical spondylosis, a deterioration of the bones of the neck that causes a misalignment in the spine. An implant was placed on part of her neck to realign her spine.
But she continues to suffer neck and back pains, and has had difficulty swallowing food, according to doctors.