Arroyo waives presence in trial
Hearings in the trial of the electoral-sabotage case against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will go on with or without her in court.
Arroyo, through her lawyers, on Thursday filed with Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 112 a waiver of appearance, stating that she is “waiving her right to appear and be present at the pretrial and trial stages” of the case.
Arroyo also stated that every time her name is mentioned in the course of the trial, she agrees that the name pertains to her and that she will not dispute her identity with that name.
She told the court that she will appear before it whenever her presence is required, but, if she fails to show up, despite notice and without proper justification, the trial may proceed in her absence.
She also promised that she will be present when a final judgment has been reached in the case, and that she will not leave the country without the court’s permission.
Fingerprinting in hospital
Also on Thursday, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division allowed Arroyo to undergo fingerprinting and other procedures related to her bail petition in her graft cases at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) instead of at the court.
The graft cases stemmed from Arroyo’s approval of the canceled $329 million National Broadband Network deal with China’s ZTE Corp., allegedly overpriced and disadvantageous to the government. The Fourth Division ordered Arroyo and her co-accused arrested on March 13.
The court said Arroyo, through her lawyers or representative, must first post P70,000 bail for her three cases, after which it would issue the orders for court personnel to proceed to the VMMC to process all the legal requirements related to her posting bail.
The requirements include fingerprinting, filling out a personal information sheet, and signing the bail undertaking. Mugshots are not required since under Sandiganbayan procedures, Arroyo can just submit her own pictures.
Arroyo had asked the court to allow her to undergo bail processing at the VMMC, where she is detained on orders of the Pasay court handling her electoral-sabotage case. She said in her petition that going to the Sandiganbayan would entail additional security and expenses for the government.
The prosecution did not oppose Arroyo’s petition for humanitarian considerations.
Arroyo is charged with graft and violating the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees.
Also accused in one of the graft cases were her husband Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, former elections chief Benjamin Abalos, and former transportation and communication secretary Leandro Mendoza. Mike Arroyo and Mendoza posted bail earlier.
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