|CONGRESSWOMAN Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the second district of Pampanga when she was the President.|
QUEZON CITY — The Sandiganbayan’s First Division has assured the Supreme Court (SC) that it is complying with the SC’s ruling, which stopped for 30 days the plunder trial of former President and now Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In a compliance-manifestation letter sent to the SC last week, which was made public by the SC Public Information Office (PIO), the Sandiganbayan informed the SC that it has already received a copy of the “status quo ante” order stopping the proceedings of the plunder case of Mrs. Arroyo for 30 days.
“The Sandiganbayan has observed and undertake to continue to observe, the status quo prevailing before the issuance of the assailed Sandiganbayan Resolution, dated April 6, 2015, insofar as petitioner Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is concerned,” the Sandiganbayan’s manifestation said.
The compliance-manifestation letter was signed by Sandiganbayan’s First Division Chair Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz and its members Associate Justices Rodolfo Ponferrada and Rafael Lagos.
The Sandiganbayan also said it would no longer file its comment on Arroyo’s pending petition before the SC, “unless the Honorable Court specifically directs it to do so.”
“Considering that it is just a nominal party in the petition filed by petitioner Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Sandiganbayan hereby manifests that it is no longer filing its comment on the said petition,” it said.
Mrs. Arroyo is facing plunder charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged anomalous utilization of Php366-million worth of intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) when she was still the Chief Executive.
In a ruling promulgated on April 6, 2015, the Sandiganbayan denied Mrs. Arroyo’s petition to post bail for her plunder case citing the strong evidence presented by the prosecution.
This prompted Mrs. Arroyo to file a petition for certiorari before the SC seeking for the reversal of the Sandiganbayan’s ruling, arguing that, the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion by saying that the evidence against her is strong.
On Sept. 10, 2015, the Sandiganbayan also denied Mrs. Arroyo’s “demurrer to evidence”, which sought the dismissal of the plunder case based on the alleged weak evidence of the prosecution.
In her supplemental motion filed before the SC last October 15 through her counsel Atty. Estelito Mendoza, Mrs. Arroyo cited an opinion paper released by the United Nations Working Group on Human Rights which said that her continued detention is arbitrary and illegal under international laws.
Mrs. Arroyo said that her petition for bail must be granted by the SC on the ground of her frail health condition and because she is not a flight risk.
She also asked the SC to order the Sandiganbayan to temporarily stop the proceedings of her plunder case while the SC is studying the merits of her petition.
The SC granted Mrs. Arroyo’s prayer and issued a 30-day “status quo ante” order last October 20.
The former president has been under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC), Quezon City since 2012 following major surgeries in her debilitating spine disease.