After nearly four years of continued detention, former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was finally released Thursday evening at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.
Arroyo was released after the promulgation of the Supreme Court of the Philippines’ (SCOTP) decision junking the plunder case against her over the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds.
The former president went out from the VMMC a little past 6:00 p.m. on board a convoy of cars escorted by motorcycle policemen.
Her release came two days after the high tribunal announced the results of its deliberation wherein, voting 11-4, ruled to acquit Arroyo due to insufficiency of evidence.
The issuance of the promulgated decision was the final stumbling block to the ailing former president’s release.
The Office of the Chief Justice transmitted the copy of the en banc’s main decision and dissenting opinions to the Office of the Clerk of Court at 1:20 p.m. Thursday.
The documents were then given to SC process server Benjamin Anonuevo, who served the Notice of Judgment and the promulgated decision to the Sandiganbayan.
After receiving the SC decision, the Sandiganbayan First Division, which heard the plunder case, issued a minute resolution directing the Philippine National Police (PNP) to immediately free Arroyo from her hospital detention.
Copies of the release order were delivered by the Sandiganbayan Sheriff and Security Services office first to the PNP before proceeding to the VMCC.
The Sandiganbayan ordered Arroyo’s arrest in October 2012 – the same month she filed her reelection bid as Pampanga representative – for her involvement in the alleged misuse of PHP366-million in intelligence funds of the PCSO from 2008 to 2010.
Arroyo was implicated based on “marginal notes” on written requests to release the money.
After her arrest, the former president was placed under hospital detention at the VMMC due to degenerative bone disease.
On Aug. 27, 2014, Arroyo filed a “demurrer to evidence”– a plea to dismiss a case on the basis of weak evidence — before the Sandiganbayan but the anti-graft court dismissed this on April 6, 2015.
On Oct. 15, 2015, Arroyo, through lawyer Estelito Mendoza, asked the High Court to suspend proceedings before the Sandiganbayan and to dismiss the plunder case.
On Tuesday, the SC voted 11-4 to acquit the former president. (PNA / Cielito M. Reganit)