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MANILA, Philippines – Former president and 3-term Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo got the plunder case acquittal she was wishing for.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday, July 19, acquitted Arroyo of the plunder charge filed against her in relation to the alleged misuse of P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) intelligence funds from 2008 to 2010.
It is a scenario that observers have been fearing since lawyer and former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza entered the picture as her lead counsel. It was Mendoza who raised Arroyo’s plunder case to the Supreme Court in 2015. (READ: What has happened to the Arroyo plunder case?)
While the case was brought to the High Court only last year, a lot has already happened since the case was filed in 2012.
Below is a short timeline of what happened since the filing of the plunder case.
July 16 – The Ombudsman filed before the Sandiganbayan a P366-M plunder suit against Arroyo in connection with the alleged misuse of PCSO intelligence funds during the latter years of her administration.
October 4 – The Sandiganbayan First Division issued an arrest warrant against Arroyo. Her camp asked the court in the morning to suspend the issuance of the warrant, but the court denied the plea.
October 24 – Arroyo asked the SC to stop the plunder trial before the Sandiganbayan. She also asked the High Court to dismiss the plunder charges filed against her by the Ombudsman.
October 29 – Arroyo refused to enter any plea to the plunder case, prompting the Sandiganbayan to enter a “not guilty” plea on her behalf.
April 24 – In a pre-trial brief given by the Arroyo camp to the Sandiganbayan, she asked that “she be allowed to present evidence last so that she may adopt the testimonies of her co-accused who may testify in their behalf or of such witness as they may present during trial.”
June 30 – Arroyo was sworn into office as reelected Pampanga representative by a notary public inside the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.
November 6 – The Sandiganbayan junked Arroyo’s petition for bail.
January 2 – Arroyo lawyer Anacleto Diaz pulled out his law firm Diaz Del Rosario & Associates from representing her in the case. Replacing Diaz as lead defense lawyer was Modesto Ticman Jr of Gilera & Ticman Law Firm.
May 14 – The prosecution expressed its intention to rest its case after it presented to the Sandiganbayan all evidence against Arroyo.
August 27 – The Arroyo camp filed a demurrer to evidence before the Sandiganbayan for her acquittal from plunder charges. Arroyo said the evidence against her presented by the prosecution failed to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
April 6 – The Sandiganbayan denied the Arroyo camp’s demurrer to evidence. This means Arroyo’s camp now has the burden to present counter-evidence to argue for her acquittal.
October 14 – Arroyo’s son Mikey filed on her behalf her certificate of candidacy (COC) for re-election for a third and last term as Pampanga representative in 2016.
October 15 – In a petition for certiorari, the Arroyo camp asked the SC to dismiss the plunder case. Through her new lawyer, Estelito Mendoza, Arroyo asked the High Court to suspend proceedings before the Sandiganbayan.
October 20 – The SC granted Arroyo’s appeal for a status ante quo order (SQAO), which temporarily stopped the plunder trial for 30 days.
November 24 – The SC extended the SQAO to February 19, 2016.
March 11 – The SC extended for another 60 days – or until April 20 – the suspension of Arroyo’s trial for plunder after denying the motion of the Solicitor General opposing Arroyo’s renewed bid to extend the SQAO.
May 3 – For the third time, the SC extended the SQAO, this time for another 60 days until June 20.
July 19 – The Supreme Court, voting 11-4 ruled to acquit Arroyo.