Court bans media in Arroyo signing of pre-trial order
Members of the media will only be allowed to stay at the Pasay City Hall grounds on January 31

CASE PROCEEDS. The Sandiganbayan rejects the Arroyos' motion to quash the plunder case against them over the botched NBN-ZTE deal. File photo.

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the media will be barred from the courtroom when former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her co-accused appear at the Pasay City Regional Trial Court at the end of the month.

Reports quoted a court official as saying reporters and photographers will only be allowed to stay at the Pasay City Hall grounds when Arroyo, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., and former election officer Lintang Bedol sign the pre-trial order on January 31. 

Arroyo, Ampatuan and Bedol are charged with electoral sabotage for alleged cheating in the May 2007 senatorial elections in Maguindanao.

Pasay RTC Spokesperson Felda Domingo said that while Arroyo signed a waiver for non-appearance in the hearing, court rules dictate that an accused must personally appear to sign the pre-trial order.

The prosecution has also insisted that Arroyo and other accused personally appear in court.

Arroyo is currently detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, while Ampatuan is detained at the Bicutan Detention Center in Taguig. Bedol is detained at the Camp Crame Custodial Center in Quezon City. –

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