SC junks remaining Arroyo plunder case, sets her free
The Supreme Court on Tuesday voted to acquit former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of plunder, allowing her to walk free from detention.
Voting 11-4, the high court granted Arroyo’s petition seeking the dismissal of her remaining plunder case before the Sandiganbayan.
“Wherefore, the Court grants the petitions for certiorari; annuls and sets aside the resolutions issued by the Sandiganbayan on April 6, 2015 and September 10, 2015…orders the immediate release from detention of said petitioner…” the high court said.
Arroyo, in her demurrer to evidence petition, sought the dismissal of her case for lack of evidence.
The remaining plunder case is about the alleged misuse of P366 million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) fund from 2008 to 2010.
In her petition, Arroyo, who has been in hospital arrest at the Veteran’s Memorial Medical Center for the past five years, sought the reversal of two Sandiganbayan resolutions dated April 6, 2015 and September 10, 2015 that denied her demurrer to evidence plea.
A demurrer to evidence is in effect a motion to dismiss filed by the accused after the prosecution finished its presentation of evidence. It is anchored on the ground that the evidence presented is insufficient.
“Not a single exhibit of the 637 exhibits offered by the prosecution nor a single testimony of the 21 witnesses of the prosecution was offered by the prosecution to prove that [Arroyo] amassed, accumulated, or acquired even a single peso of the alleged ill-gotten wealth amounting to P365,997,915.00 or any part of that amount alleged in the Information,” Arroyo’s petition stated.
The four justices who dissented were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.
Former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo lauded the high court’s ruling.
“The Supreme Court has once again proven itself to be the final bastion of justice and the rule of law. Its ruling today has validated what we have been saying for six years now: that the charges against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are nothing more than disingenuous attempts at political persecution by a corrupt and inept Aquino Administration intent on covering up its gross lack of accomplishments by harassing its political opponents,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Arroyo thanked his colleagues, especially the legal team of Mrs. Arroyo as well as their family and friends “who have shown unwavering loyalty to President Arroyo and the Arroyo and Macapagal families in their hour of deepest darkness, through the trials brought about by unrelenting prosecution and defamation perpetrated by the previous regime.”
“The dawn of a new administration has brought about new hope for great positive change, which includes freedom from false and malicious accusations and unceasing lies and disinformation. We all join the new government in its fight against criminality, corruption and its economic and political reforms that will surely usher in a new golden age for our country and people,” he added. CDG/rga
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