The grant of bail in the electoral sabotage case against former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a “big slap in the face” of President Benigno Aquino III, a militant lawmaker who criticized Aquino just days ago for failing to hold the former President accountable said.
The decision by Judge Jesus Mupas of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court to grant Arroyo bail of P1 million came just two days after Aquino highlighted his administration’s drive against corruption in his annual State of the Nation Address.
Former president and Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is temporarily free after posting a P1 million bail for her poll fraud charges Wednesday.
Arroyo, who has been under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) due to her bone ailments since late last year, left the hospital around 2:30 pm, television footage showed. Her convoy however had to endure a group of protesters, mostly from League of Filipino Students who blocked the way.
Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said the Pasay Regional Trial Court Branch 112 under Judge Jesus Mupas has approved the former president’s petition for bail.
“We don’t have any other outstanding warrant, although there is a hold departure order for plunder,” said Topacio in a phone interview with Yahoo! Southeast Asia. Reports said Arroyo’s camp paid the bail shortly before noon.
Rep. Danilo Suarez, an Arroyo ally, said Arroyo may head home after her release. He added that Arroyo is raring to return to the House of Representatives to work.
Arroyo ‘thankful to God’
Luli Arroyo-Bernas, Arroyo’s daughter, said in a television interview the former president was elated upon hearing about her bail grant and said: “Salamat sa Diyos.” She added after the release, Arroyo will go home and will eventually seek an orthopedic facility to treat her ailments.
VMMC Director, Dr. Nona Legazpi meanwhile said Arroyo is healthy. She noted, “[Arroyo] could have been treated an out-patient” although the lawmaker still has to wear a neck brace when she goes out.
“She’s a perfect detainee, she obeys whatever we tell her,” Legazpi said in a television interview when asked about what kind of patient Arroyo was.
Commission on Elections meanwhile said the bail grant was “not a setback at all.”
In a text message, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the poll commission is still studying “if there is anything that can be done about it, but the bottom line is we are ready to push the case forward.”
“We believe our case is good and strong, and that, ultimately, the ends of justice will be served,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, victim of electoral cheating in 2007, said the bail grant is a good sign.
In a text message, Pimentel said he respects Pasay RTC Branch 112 Judge Jesus Mupas’s decision.
“It all depends on the evidence presented against CGMA (Arroyo). Since there was only one witness against her, an alleged eyewitness, then the grant of bail means the judge wasn’t convinced that the evidence against Arroyo is strong,” he said.
He said the grant of bail “is a good sign that the judicial processes are working in our country.”
Pimentel, chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation, filed an electoral sabotage complaint against Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo in October last year. Also in Pimentel’s complaint were former presidential political adviser Gabriel Claudio, former Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos, former Comelec Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, Lintang Bedol, among others.