MANILA, Philippines – Two of the justices who were supposed to sign former President Gloria Arroyo’s release order were not around on Thursday afternoon, July 21.
Efren N. de la Cruz – the First Division chairman – was present when the process orders for the release of Gloria Arroyo and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office budget and accounts manager Benigno Aguas arrived.
This prompted the anti-graft court to appoint special members of the First division in their stead to complete the 3 required signatories.
Two last minute administrative orders were needed to facilitate the signing of the order for the release of Arroyo.
De la Cruz, along with Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Geraldine Faith A. Econg, signed the order.
Econg was appointed special member of the First Division through Administrative Order No. 255-2016.
Two regular members of the First Division – Associate Justices Associate Justices Reynaldo P. Cruz and Michael Frederick L. Musngi – reported for work in the morning but had apparently left before the copy of the SC ruling could reach the Sandiganbayan Judicial Records Division.
Cruz, Musngi, and Econg belong to a batch of 6 justices appointed by former President Benigno S. Aquino III. They joined the special anti-graft court on January 20, 2016.
Both Arroyo and Aguas waited two days to be released following the SC order of dismissal of the plunder case against them.
After the SC ruling was received by the Sandiganbayan Docket, a draft of the release order was prepared by the Clerk of Court and sent to the justices for signing.
The order was officially released by the First Division at 3:55 p.m. It was then sent to the Sheriff and Security Services Office for delivery from Camp Crame, Quezon City to the Police Security and Protection Group (PSPG) which has custody over Arroyo. The order was also sent to the PNP Custodial Center that has jurisdiction over Aguas.
Arroyo was released at around 6:20 p.m. from the presidential suite of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMCC). The VMMC has served as her detention facility ever since she turned herself in on October 4, 2012 following the Sandiganbayan’s issuing of a warrant for her arrest. – Rappler.com