Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) may still be under hospital arrest, but that may soon change if presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte wins the elections next year.
At least that’s what he said at a gathering of Friends of Rody Duterte in Pampanga. He received cheers when he said:
If I am elected President, I will release her. Why? Because the evidence [against her] is weak. I know that. I am a lawyer.
Arroyo is detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) for charges of electoral fraud in connection with the 2007 elections, and plunder for the alleged misuse of P366 million of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) while she was president.
While under hospital arrest, Arroyo still serves as a member of the 2nd District of Pampanga province in the House of Representatives. Despite her condition, she has filed for more bills than her colleagues.
Court resolutions have denied her right to seek a ruling on the sufficiency of evidence against her, and the Pasay City Regional Trial Court has not opened her trial for electoral fraud. Duterte said that Arroyo deserves a fast trial, like ordinary citizens:
If [the prosecution] is not ready, every time the case is called for hearing, [the court] should dismiss [the charges] because [the delay also] delays justice.
Just last year, international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney (who also happens to be George Clooney’s wife) said that the detention is a form of political persecution, and that it is a violation of the international law on human rights. Clooney represents Arroyo in the United Nations after the former president filed a complaint before the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
Arroyo’s camp has plans to seek for bail, using a UN ruling, but no update has been posted.
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