MANILA, Philippines–Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Jesus B. Mupas of Branch 112 issued an arrest warrant for former President and now Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
“Normal procedure ito. The Court needs to issue a warrant of arrest to acquire jurisdiction over the person of the accused,” the court said.
Pasay RTC process server Ismael Cuerdo brought the warrant of arrest against the former president to the Pasay police. Comelec lawyer Efraim Bag-id had filed an electoral sabotage case against the former president at the Pasay RTC. Electoral sabotage is a non-bailable offense.
RTC Judge Mupas handled the Comelec’s urgent petition for a hold departure order (HDO) against Mrs. Arroyo. Instead of issuing an HDO, Mupas issued an arrest warrant. After the case was raffled to his sala, he holed up in his office after taking a short water break.
In a press conference, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she was told by President Benigno Aquino III to “treat Mrs Arroyo with utmost respect.” She added that they would not object to either hospital or house arrest. If she steps out of St. Luke’s where she is currently staying, the police will have no choice but haul her to jail. If she stays where she is, the warrant can be served without mug shots or finger prints being taken in a police station.
Former President Joseph Estrada was served a warrant of arrest in 2001 and had fingerprints and mugshots of him taken like an ordinary criminal.
Mrs. Arroyo is accused of playing a role in the alleged rigging of the 2007 senatorial elections. Besides her, ex-Comelec chair Benjamin Abalos, former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan, and former Comelec executive Lintang Bedol were also recommended for inclusion in the case.
In Malacañang, Secretary Edwin Lacierda maintained that the Arroyos, through their lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, failed to substantially comply with the requirements of a temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court spokesman and court administrator Midas Marquez confirmed that by a vote of 7-6, justices ruled that Topacio did not substantially comply with the TRO requirements. Yet by the same vote, the justices also ruled there was no need to suspend the TRO, according to Marquez.
He also said that the TRO applies only to former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. The former president is no longer covered by the TRO, meaning, she cannot travel.
Mupas was reprimanded by the Supreme in 2008 and was ordered to pay a fine of P10,000 for failing to promptly dispose of cases in his sala.
Then Supreme Court Associate Justice Alicia Austria-Martinez found Mupas guilty of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct which requires judges to rule on cases within the required period of time. Lower courts are required by the Constitution to decide on pending cases within three months from the date the latest pleading was filed.
Mupas was appointed on April 5, 2005 under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Born on Oct. 23, 1959, the 52-year-old judge is a 1984 graduate of the Manuel L. Quezon School of Law.
Earlier in 2007, according to a Newsbreak report, he issued a “writ of possession” in relation to the case of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport-Terminal 3 issue.
The writ allowed the government to provide for the “repair, reconditioning and improvement of the complex, maintenance of the existing facilities and equipment, installation of new facilities and equipment, provision of services and facilities pertaining to the facilitation of air traffic and transport, and other services that are integral to a modern-day international airport.”
Mupas however said that the government could exercise acts of ownership only after it pays the Philippine Air Terminals Company Inc. the full value of the new airport. This was pegged at P3 billion. –Move.PH