The Sandiganbayan has allowed former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a four-day Christmas furlough, which she means she will spend Christmas at home with her family. She was also allowed to see Pope Francis on his visit to the Philippines in January, 2015.
In a three-page ruling released by the Sandiganbayan’s First Division this morning, Mrs. Arroyo is allowed to leave Veterans Memorial Medical Center from December 23 to 26, 2014 where she is under hospital arrest. She is also allowed to leave her detention any day during the Papal visit.
“Wherefore, the subject motion of accused-movant is partially granted and accused-movant is allowed to celebrate Christmas with her family…at her residence at No. 14 Badjao Street, La Vista, Quezon City,” A statement reads on the ruling concurred by Associate Justices Alex Quiroz and Rafael Lagos.
“In this case that ‘there is no strong evidence that ill-gotten wealth was amassed, accumulated or acquired by any of the accused as in fact the existence of such ill-gotten wealth was not clearly established.” The statement added, noting that the ruling was made for “humanitarian considerations.”
Earlier, the 67-year old former president requested a “leave” from December 23, 2014 to January 3, 2015 and was denied. Instead, she was given the freedom to choose any day from January 15 to 19, 2015, the dates of the visit of Pope Francis to the country.
Pope Francis is set to arrive in Manila at around 5 pm on January 15, 2015. This is second leg of his Asian tour, after he visits Sri Lanka. A motorcade will be held until he reaches his official residence at the Apostolic Nunciature, the Embassy of the Holy See, in Taft Avenue, Manila.
The following morning, January 16, Pope Francis will visit Malacanang Palace to be welcomed by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. In the afternoon, the pontiff will hold a mass at the Manila Cathedral, where only 2,000 people are allowed to attend and might include Rep. Gloria Arroyo.
According to the Papal visit itinerary, the Pope will also visit Archdiocese of Palo in Leyte which was devastated by typhoon Yolanda. On his last day of visit, January 18, Pope Francis will offer a mass at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park (Luneta), Manila and is expected to draw millions of people.
“We thank the Sandiganbayan for allowing former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to spend time and be with her family this Christmas. Indeed, the mercy and compassion of Pope Francis will help my client a lot.” Larry Gadon, Arroyo’s legal counsel, said.
Earlier this month, the Sandiganbayan also allowed the former president to undergo digital mammogram which occurred last Thursday, December 18 at the Makati Medical Center. This annual medical check is upon the recommendation of her doctors, to avoid the risk of having breast cancer just like her mother.
Meanwhile, Malacanang said they respect the decision of the Sandiganbayan and wishes the former president a ‘Merry Christmas.’ But while former Bayan Muna representative Teddy Casino also wishes Mrs. Arroyo a ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘good health,’ he said she should still not enjoy any VIP treatment.
Related Post: Erap to Run for President in 2016, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Vice President