SC stops Gloria Arroyo’s plunder trial for 30 days
(UPDATE) The Supreme Court has issued a status quo ante order (SQAO) in favor of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stopping for 30 days her plunder trial before the Sandiganbayan.
At the same time, the high court also ordered the Anti-Graft Court’s First Division to comment on the petition filed by Mrs. Arroyo.
The 30-day period, according to a source, was meant to give the high court time to decide on the merits of the case.
But another source clarified the order does not mean granting Arroyo temporary liberty.
The high court issued a ruling after Arroyo filed a 115-page petition asking the high court to reverse the final ruling of the Sandiganbayan first division last February denying her bail motion in the remaining plunder case against her involving the P366-million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) fund anomaly.
Arroyo, 68, is detained at the VMMC plunder over the alleged misuse of P366 million in intelligence funds for the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) from 2008 to 2010 for personal gain.
Last April, Mrs. Arroyo already appealed the Sandiganbayan ruling.
In her latest motion where she is being represented by former solicitor-general Atty. Estelito Mendoza, she cited the recent report from the United Nations Technical Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recommending the reconsideration of Mrs. Arroyo’s application for bail “in accordance with the relevant international human rights standards.”
Arroyo said the UN panel’s position was consistent with the petition for bail and demurrer to evidence her defense lawyers filed before the Sandiganbayan First Division.
Mrs. Arroyo also reiterated her prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the proceedings on the plunder case before the anti-graft court.
In her petition, Mrs. Arroyo cited her deteriorating health in asking the high court to reverse the rulings of the Sandiganbayan.
Arroyo said the high court had ruled in many cases that detainees are entitled to bail “if their continuous confinement during the pendency of their case would be injurious to their health or endanger their life.”
The petitioner invoked the case of De La Rama, where the high court ruled that hospital arrest “fell short of meeting or accomplishing the humanitarian purpose or reason underlying the doctrine adopted by modern trend of courts’ decisions which permit bail to prisoners, irrespective of the nature and merits of the charge against them, if their continuous confinement during the pendency of their case would be injurious to their health or endanger their life.” TVJ
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