MANILA, Philippines (5th UPDATE) – Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who earlier posted a P1-million bail, has been released from hospital detention.
She was seen walking with a neckbrace from her hospital suite to a waiting vehicle. She walked with one of her granddaughters.
Mrs Arroyo’s release ends an 8-month detention. The court had her arrested her in November 2011 after the Commission on Elections filed an electoral sabotage case against her in connection with the 2007 senatorial race.
Mrs Arroyo arrived in La Vista, Quezon City, where she lives, at shortly past 3 p.m. (Read: Arroyo is home.)
On Wednesday, July 25, the Pasay court granted Mrs Arroyo’s motion for bail, saying the Comelec’s evidence against her was weak.
The court’s spokeswoman, Felda Domingo, said the bail order was immediately executory and can only be stopped by a temporary restraining order from the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court.
Arroyo’s spokesman, Ferdinand Topacio, described the ruling as “a triumph of justice and a resounding denial of dictatorship” that proved her earlier assertions of innocence.
“It is a reaffirmation of what our camp has been saying all along,” Topacio said, before borrowing from a quote by former US president Abraham Lincoln.
“That the charges against the former president are as thin as the soup made from boiling the shadow of a chicken that has been starved to death.”
The bail allowed Mrs Arroyo to go home but a Sandiganbayan hold departure order (HDO), issued on July 24, bars her from leaving the country. The HDO is in connection with a plunder case filed against her last week by the Ombudsman.
The Sandiganbayan case complicates her situation.
In an interview, Sandiganbayan spokesperson Renato Bocar said that the opinion of the court’s legal division chief, Ruth Ferrer, is that Mrs Arroyo must remain in detention because of the plunder case.
Mrs Arroyo earlier asked the Sandiganbayan to suspend the plunder proceedings against her. The court has scheduled a hearing on this motion on Thursday, July 26.
Protestors have gathered at the hospital. They’re blaming the Aquino administration for its slow action against the former president.
The Comelec accused the former president of conspiring with local officials led by former Maguindanao Gov Andal Ampatuan Sr and election authorities to ensure an administration victory in the 2007 senatorial elections.
Last May, a key witness in the election sabotage case against Mrs Arroyo disappeared. But Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr gave assurances that their other witness, Nori Unas, was under protection.
“We want to tell the public that the fight is not yet over. They are saying that since our main witness disappeared, our case against GMA [Arroyo] had weakened. Not true,” Brillantes told reporters then. – Rappler.com, with a report from Purple S. Romero
For related articles, read:
- Timeline: Arroyo and her electoral sabotage case
- TIMELINE: The Arroyo Saga
- Sandiganbayan: Why was Arroyo released?
- Arroyo bail: Forgive and forget?
- Arroyo, 9 others charged with plunder
- Comelec broke rules to charge Arroyo
- Graft court summons Arroyo doctors
- Court stops plunder hearing vs Arroyo
- Witness vs Arroyo credible, says Comelec