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Sandiganbayan orders release of Gloria Arroyo

Former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been ordered released from her hospital arrest at the Veterans' Memorial Medical Center.

The First Division of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Thursday issued a minute resolution directing the Philippine National Police (PNP) to immediately free the former President from her hospital detention.

The anti-graft court’s issuance reiterated the Supreme Court (SC) ruling dismissing the plunder case against Mrs. Arroyo which has been pending with the Sandiganbayan First Division since 2012.



“The Court notes the Supreme Court Decision in (Arroyo vs. People and Sandiganbayan) and (Aguas vs Sandiganbayan)," the First Division's resolution read.

"In view thereof, accused Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aguas are hereby ordered released from detention immediately, unless they are being held in custody for other reasons not related to this case,” it added.

The resolution was signed by First Division chairman Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz, sitting member Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and junior member Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg.

Also ordered immediately released from detention was Arroyo's co-accused, former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) budget and accounts manager Benigno Aguas.

Aguas is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame in Quezon City.

The First Division issued the resolution shortly after a process server from SC arrived at the Sandiganbayan Thursday afternoon to furnish the anti-graft court with a copy of the high court’s promulgated decision.

The tribunal directed the Sheriff and Security Services Office to deliver copies of the resolution to the VMMC, the PNP national headquarters, the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNOP-CIDG), the PNP Police Security Protection Group (PNP-PSPG) who has the custody of Mrs. Arroyo and the PNP Custodial Center who has the custody of Aguas.

Not enough evidence

In a vote of 11-4, the SC En Banc on Tuesday ruled to dismiss the plunder case against Mrs. Arroyo and Aguas, due to the “insufficiency of evidence” of the prosecution team.

The case stemmed from the alleged misuse of P366-million worth of PCSO’s confidential intelligence fund from 2008 to 2010 during Mrs. Arroyo’s term as president.

After the SC En Banc voted on the case on Tuesday, it took the high court two days before it was able to release a copy of its promulgated decision.

The time it took before the release of copies of the SC ruling got in the way of the supposed “immediate release” of the former President from the VMMC in Quezon City, where she has been under hospital arrest since December 2011.

First Division

The Sandiganbayan First Division handled the plunder case against Arroyo.

The court had denied both Mrs. Arroyo’s petition for bail and her demurrer to evidence which seeks the dismissal of the case based on the supposed weak evidence of the prosecution.

The First Division’s unfavorable rulings against her prompted Mrs. Arroyo’s camp to elevate the case to the SC in October last year through a petition for certiorari. —NB, GMA News