Arroyo’s ride to (temporary) freedom
It wasn’t too long ago when President Benigno Aquino III and his allies were busy patting themselves on the back after successfully ousting then chief justice Renato Corona in a four-month impeachment trial.
That glow of victory was further enhanced with the President’s declaration in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) that his administration will pursue reforms with true justice, in reference to his unlamented predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Now wouldn’t you know it, the former president turned legislator managed to draw a favorable court ruling that allowed her to post P1 million bail which made it possible for her to go home to her La Vista abode in Quezon City.
The pitiful assembly of militant groups who tried to block the former president’s convoy from the Veterans Memorial Medical Center where she stayed under hospital arrest could only gnash their teeth as Arroyo’s contingent brushed them aside and sped away, leaving them in the dust.
It’s interesting that the President’s ride to temporary freedom came amid the ongoing grilling of applicants for the Chief Justice post by the Judicial Bar Council. Among the candidates was Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
It was de Lima who managed to abort Arroyo’s dash to the airport last year by ordering security to clamp down on Arroyo’s retinue causing the former president to suffer the indignity of being photographed and filmed on her wheelchair and wearing neck brace before being processed for detention.
In approving bail, the court said evidence was weak in the election sabotage charges filed against the former president. If it was any consolation to her detractors, the court reiterated that Arroyo cannot leave the country.
Hopefully with all its resources at its disposal, the Aquino administration can block Arroyo’s exit out of the country. The minute she boards an airplane, it can kiss its chances of jailing, let alone prosecuting her, goodbye.
Not that they’re sitting on the sidelines with this development. The Commission on Elections vowed to build a stronger case against the former president . Justice Secretary de Lima is expected to follow suit.
While the proposal may be unpalatable to a lot of people, the idea of former president Arroyo being placed under house arrest may be considered an alternative, if only to assure that she won’t go anywhere. It would also be less costly, since she would live in her luxury home similar to her own predecessor, former president Joseph Estrada.
Arroyo’s ticket to freedom makes the ongoing selection for the next Chief Justice all the more important. Whoever gets to wield the High Court’s gavel will help determine how the cases filed against the former president will be handled and ruled on.
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