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SC votes, 11-4, to release GMA

By REY PANALIGAN

Gloria Macapagal-ArroyoManila, Philippines – Voting 11-4, the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday ordered the release of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from hospital detention.

The High Court dismissed, for insufficiency of evidence, the plunder case filed against her before the Sandiganbayan in connection with alleged misuse of P366 million in funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

The SC decision is immediately executory.

It is now the turn of the Sandiganbayan to implement the ruling and facilitate the release of Mrs. Arroyo from the Veterans Memorial Hospital in Quezon City where she has been confined due to failing health.

Since the dismissal of the plunder case is tantamount to an acquittal, government prosecutors are banned from filing any motion for reconsideration.

Also ordered released with the dismissal of the plunder case was Benigno Aguas, former PCSO budget and accounts manager. The SC voted 10-5 in his case.

Those who voted in Arroyo’s favor were Justices Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro, Arturo D. Brion, Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, Mariano C. del Castillo, Jose Portugal Perez, Jose Catral Mendoza, Bienvenido L. Reyes, Estela B. Perlas Bernabe, and Francis H. Jardeleza.

Those who dissented were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio, and Justices Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen, and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.

In the case of Aguas, Justice Bernabe joined Sereno, Carpio, Leonen, and Caguioa as dissenter.

The Supreme Court Spokesman Theodore Te said Sereno and Leonen submitted separate dissenting opinions, Brion submitted separate concurring opinion, while Bernabe submitted separate concurring and dissenting opinion.

Mrs. Arroyo had elevated to the SC three issues involving her plunder case. These are the denial to post bail, determination of probable cause, and demurer to evidence.

She had pleaded the SC to resolve immediately her petition that would dismiss her plunder case through a demurer to evidence.

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