Duterte: If elected, I will release Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines— Pampangans cheered when Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a presidential aspirant, promised on Friday that if elected he would release former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from detention.
Arroyo, who has been detained in a hospital in Manila for six years on charges of electoral fraud and plunder, holds the seat of the 2nd District of Pampanga province in the House of Representatives.
“If I am elected President, I will release her. Why? Because the evidence [against her] is weak. I know that. I am a lawyer,” Duterte said at a gathering of the group Friends of Rody Duterte here.
Arroyo was arrested in 2011 on electoral fraud charges in connection with the 2007 elections, but was allowed bail in 2012. Before she could be freed, however, the Sandiganbayan ordered her arrest on charges of plunder, involving alleged misuse of P366 million in intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office when she was President.
The 112th Branch of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court has yet to open Arroyo’s trial for electoral fraud.
She has won an order from the Supreme Court temporarily stopping her trial for plunder.
Arroyo has questioned court resolutions that denied her right to seek a ruling on the sufficiency of the evidence against her.
She also claims that detention has worsened her many ailments.
Duterte, who served as presidential consultant on public order in Arroyo’s administration, said Arroyo, like ordinary citizens, was entitled to a speedy trial.
“If [the prosecution] is not ready, every time the case is called for hearing, [the court] should dismiss [the charges] because [the delay also] delays justice,” Duterte said.
Duterte and his running mate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, will launch their campaign in Tondo, Manila, on Tuesday.
Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing said on Saturday that Duterte and Cayetano chose Tondo to dramatize the need to rescue the Filipinos from poverty.
“Tondo mirrors the true state and image of Filipinos who are trying to break free from extreme poverty,” Bagatsing, who is running for mayor of Manila under Duterte’s PDP-Laban, said in a statement.
The choice of Tondo also has a historical significance for Duterte, Bagatsing said.
Tondo is the birthplace of national hero Andres Bonifacio, a brave leader of the revolution against Spain who was known for his sympathy for the poor, Bagatsing said.
“Bonifacio and Duterte have so much in common aside from being born of the working class. They symbolize our people’s burning desire to break loose from poverty and oppression,” he said. With a report from Nancy C. Carvajal
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