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UPDATED 3:35 p.m. - The Supreme Court on Friday denied the government's request to take back the high court's temporary restraining order (TRO) on the watch list order against former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. "The motion for reconsideration filed by the Solicitor General is denied by a vote of 8-5," said court administrator and spokesman Midas Marquez in a briefing in Manila. Marquez said the magistrates maintained the way they had previously voted on the TRO against the watch list orders on Mrs. Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo. The same eight justices who granted the TRO also voted to deny the Solicitor General's motion for reconsideration: Chief Justice Renato C. Corona and Justices Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., Arturo D. Brion, Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, Roberto A. Abad, Martin S. Villarama Jr., and Jose P. Perez. On the other hand, the five who voted in favor of the DOJ's appeal were: Justices Antonio T. Carpio, Jose C. Mendoza, Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno, Bienvenido L. Reyes, Jr., and Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe. The two justices who did not take part in the voting were: Leonardo-De Castro, J. (on official business), and Del Castillo, J. (on official leave). Marquez also said the SC denied the Arroyo camp's request to hold earlier than the Nov. 22 schedule for the oral arguments on the watch list order. The court also asked the Arroyo couple's lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, to submit "supplemental compliance" showing he was the duly authorized legal representative of the Arroyos to accept legal notices from the court like subpoenas. Having a legal representative was one of three conditions set by the high court before Mr. and Mrs. Arroyo can leave the Philippines for the former Philippine leader's medical treatment abroad.
Electoral sabotage The Commission on Elections (Comelec) around noon on Friday filed a case against Mrs. Arroyo for electoral sabotage in the 2007 elections before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 112 under Judge Jesus Mupas. Former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former election supervisor Lintang Bedol were included in the charge sheet but former First Gentleman Mr. Arroyo was excluded for insufficient evidence. In a text message to GMA News Online, lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said, as Mrs. Arroyo's legal counsel, his official reaction to the filing of the case was "INAYKUPOO!" SC to De Lima: Explain defiance Meanwhile, the SC also asked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to explain why she defied a court order allowing Mrs. Arroyo to travel abroad. "DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima is hereby required to show cause why she should not be held in contempt and comply with the TRO with a non-extendable period of 10 days," Marquez said. Marquez said the explanation from De Lima was required on the bases of: (1) her refusal to comply with the TRO, and (2) her "disrespect towards the Supreme Court." If cited for indirect contempt, De Lima could be fined at least P30,000 or imprisonment of not longer than six months. In the same briefing, Marquez reiterated the high court's appeal to concerned officials to observe the TRO and no longer bar the Arroyos from leaving the country. "I hope that this TRO will be respected and complied with. Two en banc sessions, two thorough deliberations already were conducted and these deliberations resulted in the same vote, 8-5," Marquez said. Shortly after the release of the TRO last Tuesday, the Arroyo couple tried but failed to board a plane bound for Hong Kong after immigration officials, upon orders from De Lima, prevented them from leaving the country. From Hong Kong, Mrs. Arroyo was supposed to take a connecting flight to Singapore, where she had a scheduled medical appointment. - VVP/MRT/RSJ, GMA News