The Supreme Court, voting 11-4, acquitted on Tuesday former president and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of plunder charges, setting the motion for her release after four years of hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center.
CGMA’s allies, particularly Kapampangans, has welcomed the development.
In a phone interview with Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, a known CGMA ally, said Kapampangans should rejoice with her release from incarceration after the former President was denied the right to swift justice.
Pamintuan said the Supreme Court – the last bulwark of democracy – has spoken, and it is but right that CGMA be released.
“She was denied her right to swift justice. She was arrested initially without warrant of arrest. It is but right that she be released. Kapampangans should rejoice with her release from incarceration,” Pamintuan said.
The 11 justices who ruled to junked the former President’s plunder trial in connection with the alleged misuse of funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) are Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr,; Justice Teresita de Castro; Justice Arturo Brion;Justice Diosdado Peralta; Justice Lucas Bersamin; Justice Mariano del Castillo; Justice Jose Perez; Justice Jose Mendoza; Justice Bienvenido Reyes; Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe; and Justice Francis Jardeleza. Of the 11, nine are Arroyo appointees while three were appointed by Aquino: Bernabe, Reyes and Jardeleza.
The justices who voted against Arroyo are Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, and Justices Marvic Leonen and Benjamin Caguioa. Of the 4, only Carpio is an appointee of CGMA; the rest were appointed by former president Benigno Aquino III.
In a statement, Arroyo’s lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, said: “The Supreme Court has once again proven itself to be the final bastion of justice and the rule of law. Its ruling today has validated what we have been saying for six years now: that the charges against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are nothing more than disingenuous attempts at political persecution by a corrupt and inept Aquino administration intent on covering up its gross lack of accomplishments by harassing its political opponents.”
Sources said the High Tribunal has found the evidence against Arroyo weak.
The landmark ruling came a month after former President Benigno Aquino stepped down from office. The former president jailed Arroyo and led the impeachment against her appointed chief justice, the late Renato Corona.