Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

No plea from Arroyo pending SC verdict
(UPDATED) Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo refuses to enter a plea in court, saying she will wait for the final decision of the Supreme Court on her petition to nullify the trial against her

Former president Gloria Arroyo (C) awaits the start of the arraignment of the PCSO plunder case at the Sandiganbayan, October 29, 2012. Photo by Natashya Gutierrez.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo chose not to make a plea during her arraignment Monday, October 29, pending a verdict by the Supreme Court on her petition to annul the plunder trial against her.

The Sandiganbayan thus entered a “not guilty” plea on her behalf.

Her lawyer Anacleto Diaz asked the court for the holding of a preliminary conference in December and a pre-trial on Feb 14, 2013.

Mrs Arroyo finally showed up at the Sandiganbayan at about 7:30 am for her arraignment in the plunder case against her. She left the court at 8:49 am.

Accompanied by husband Jose Miguel Arroyo and lawyer Diaz, the Pampanga representative arrived at the Sandiganbayan aboard a white coaster, accompanied by 3 police cruisers.

She entered through the rear entrance of the Sandiganbayan building and was wheeled inside the building. She was also accompanied by medical personnel. The arraignment is scheduled to begin at 8:30 am.

The arraignment was supposedly scheduled October 15, but was reset to October 29 upon the petition of Arroyo’s camp, after she was rushed to intensive care last October 12.

Mrs Arroyo and at least 9 other former government officials are facing plunder charges before the Sandiganbayan over allegations they misused P366-M funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). Plunder is a non-bailable offense.

Two of her co-accused, former PCSO chairman Sergio Valencia and former PCSO assistant general manager Benigno Aguas, also showed up in court Monday.

On Wednesday, Arroyo filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to stop the ongoing plunder trial, and to dismiss the charges filed by the Ombudsman. The Sandiganbayan proceeded with her plunder trial in haste and despite weak evidence against her, she said in her petition.

She is currently under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City. –