Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been released from her hospital arrest after the Supreme Court ruled to drop the plunder case against her on Tuesday, July 19. Arroyo has been detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center since October 2012.
According to the Court, through SC Spokesman Theodore Te, the Court acquitted Arroyo for “insufficiency of evidence” and ordered for the congresswoman’s “immediate release.”
The order came after 11 justices voted in favor of Arroyo’s plea to junk a ruling from Sandiganbayan that started her plunder trial after she was charged for allegedly misusing funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). Only 4 justices voted against Arroyo.
Te quoted a portion of the SC decision, saying “Wherefore, the Court grants the petitions for certiorari; annuls and sets aside the resolutions issues in Criminal Case No. SB-12-CRM-0174 by the Sandiganbayan on April 6, 2015 and September 10, 2015; grants the petitioners’ respective demurrers to evidence; dismisses Criminal Case No. SB-12-CRM-0174 as to the petitioners Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aguas for insufficiency of evidence; ORDERS the immediate release from detention of said petitioners; and makes no pronouncements on costs of suit.”
The 11 justices who voted in favor of junking the plunder case against Arroyo 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
- Justice Francis Jardeleza
Eight of these justices were Arroyo appointees, while the rest – Bernabe, Reyes, and Jardeleza, were former President Benigno Aquino III’s appointees.
Those who voted against the former president are:
- Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno
- Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio
- Associate Justice Marvic Leonen
- Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa
Only Carpio was appointed by Arroyo, while the other three were appointed by Aquino.
Justice prevailed – Arroyo
After her acquittal, Arroyo released a statement, welcoming the SC decision.
“First and foremost, to God Almighty be all the glory and praise. Through His kindness and mercy, justice and righteousness have once again prevailed over injustice and wrongdoing. With the High Tribunal rendering a final decision on this unfortunate episode, I sincerely hope that everyone will respect and recognize the truth that has been established,” Arroyo said.
Arroyo also mentioned President Rodrigo Duterte in her statement, lauding him for letting due process take its course.
“I also extend my heartfelt appreciation to his Excellency, President Rodrigo Duterte, and to the honorable members of the Supreme Court,” she added.
During the campaign for the May 9 elections, Duterte vowed to release Arroyo, citing weak evidence. He even offered pardon to the former president, but Arroyo declined, saying that accepting the pardon meant admitting that the charges against her were true.
Arroyo showed her gratefulness to the Court for ending her ‘unjust persecution’ for the past five years and to her supporters for their prayers and for helping her keep her “faith and conviction that truth and justice will ultimately prevail.”
She also wished no one will suffer the same way she did.
Trillanes on Duterte’s promise
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has also weighed in on Arroyo’s release, based on the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s tweets.
“The release of GMA is one of the campaign promises of Pres. Duterte. At least, he didn’t need to do much to fulfill this one,” Trillanes said in a statement.
However, Arroyo’s legal counsel Estelito Mendoza, clarified that Duterte had nothing to do with the Court’s ruling.
“Walang kinalaman si President Duterte sa kasong ito o sa proseso ng Supreme Court.”
Arroyo was accused of misusing P366 million in PCSO intelligence funds from 2008 to 2010 and was acquitted of the plunder charge filed against her in relation to this case with the SC’s ruling this Tuesday.