Highlights: Gloria Arroyo in 2013

Rodneil Quiteles
Highlights: Gloria Arroyo in 2013
In 2013, the former president is reelected congresswoman, charged with a new plunder case, and weakened by health problems

MANILA, Philippines – Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been put under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) since October 2012 for a plunder charge. 

The year 2013 marked her first full year there. (She was earlier detained at VMMC from November 2011 to July 2012 due to an electoral sabotage case against her.)

She celebrated her 66th birthday that year, her second while in detention. (READ: How GMA celebrated her past birthdays)

As Arroyo turns 67 this Saturday, April 5, we reviewed some notable events in her life in the past year.

EMBATTLED. Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo continued to face court cases and health problems in 2013. File photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

Reelection

Arroyo won a second term as representative of the second district of Pampanga, defeating Liberal Party candidate Vivian Dabu by over 150,000 votes.

However, she was not able to vote at her polling precinct in her hometown of Lubao, because she was unable to obtain permission from the Sandiganbayan to leave VMMC.

Meanwhile, before the 15th Congress adjourned, the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act, which she co-authored with her son Dato, was signed by President Benigno Aquino III on May 30.

Health condition

In a VMMC medical update in November 2013, Arroyo’s physical health was said to be deteriorating. She was diagnosed with spine problems, particularly in the cervical and lumbar areas. Evidence of osteoporosis was also seen.

“These irreversible and progressive developments may cause serious impairment of her health and danger to her life, if not attended to promptly,” the bulletin added.

In addition, she suffers from esophageal stenosis, or the narrowing of the esophagus, brought about by a titanium implant, which she got in July 2011. (READ: GMA’s ‘life-threatening condition’ revealed)

New plunder case

On Oct 3, 2013, Arroyo and some of her Cabinet officials were charged with plunder by the Department of Justice (DOJ) over the alleged misuse of the highly-discretionary Malampaya Fund.

Also included as respondents were alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles and political liaison Ruby Tuason.

In her defense, Arroyo said that her extensive discretion over the use of the Malampaya Fund during her term as president was in accordance with the law. (READ: GMA: Wide discretion over Malampaya fund lawful)

Aside from the new plunder case, Arroyo is facing 3 other cases in court:

  • An electoral sabotage case filed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in 2011. She was accused, together with former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr, and former election supervisor Lintang Bedol.
  • A graft case filed by the Ombudsman in 2011, in relation to her alleged involvement in the botched National Broadband Network (NBN)-ZTE deal. Her husband, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, former Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos, and former transportation and communications secretary Leandro Mendoza were also named as respondents. Mendoza died of a heart attack on Oct 7, 2013 in Batangas.
  • A plunder case filed by the Ombudsman in 2012, in connection with the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds. Former PCSO and Commission on Audit (COA) officials were likewise charged.

She has pleaded “not guilty” on the electoral sabotage and graft cases. Meanwhile, the court entered a “not guilty” plea for Arroyo when she refused to enter a plea during her arraignment in October.

On Nov 6, 2013, the Sandiganbayan denied GMA’s petition for bail in the PCSO plunder case.

Erap visits GMA

In a twist of fate, a former president she previously sent to the same hospital for detention came to visit her in return.

Joseph Estrada, convicted of plunder in 2007 but pardoned in the same year, visited Arroyo at the VMMC on December 22, just 3 days before Christmas.

The visit marked Estrada’s return to the VMMC, where he himself was detained after being ousted from the presidency in 2001. Arroyo, who was then the vice president, assumed the presidency until 2010.

Former president Fidel V. Ramos also paid her a visit in 2013. Former Vice President Noli de Castro, several bishops of the Catholic Church, and former first lady Imelda Marcos followed suit in January 2014. – Rappler.com

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