MANILA, Philippines – Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is now congresswoman of the 2nd district of Pampanga, intends to seek re-election again despite being detained for plunder.
Arroyo’s lawyer Raul Lambino told Rappler his client's detention cannot be used as ground to disqualify her since she has not been convicted. He pointed out that she was already detained in 2013 when she sought re-election, but she was allowed to run and overwhelmingly won.
If she runs and wins in 2016, it will be her last term as congresswoman.
Arroyo has been on trial for alleged plunder since 2012. She is accused of misusing P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office intelligence funds for personal gain from 2008 to 2010.
She is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.
“She was in the same situation in 2013. Despite that, she won overwhelmingly. She is presumed innocent until proven guilty [of the charges]. It cannot be used for her disqualification,” Lambino said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Malacañang refused to comment on whether Arroyo's continued detention can be used against her re-election plans. The Aquino administration ran after the former president in 2012, filed cases of electoral sabotage and plunder against her, and sought her imprisonment.
“The issue on whether or not former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can seek re-election is best left to the discretion of the Sandiganbayan and the Comelec (Commission on Elections),” Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said.
In May, the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan denied for the 4th time Arroyo’s request for bail in connection with the plunder case against her. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org