- High tribunal junked plunder case against former president Arroyo
- It granted her demurrer to evidence, in effect saying the evidence against her was weak
- Acquittal will pave the way for release from the Veterans Memorial Medical Center
MANILA, Philippines – Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo can look to brighter days ahead as the Supreme Court has acquitted her of plunder charges.
Sitting en banc on Tuesday, July 19, 2016, the high tribunal voted 11-4 to grant Arroyo’s demurrer to evidence and junk the Sandiganbayan’s ruling which set the motion for her trial on allegations she misused P366 million in funds belonging to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
The 11 who voted to acquit Arroyo were Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita de Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza, Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and Francis Jardeleza.
Bernabe, Reyes, and Jardeleza were appointed by former president Benigno Aquino III.
The four who dissented were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, and Justice Marvic Leonen and Benjamin Caguioa.
Carpio is an appointee of Arroyo.
In granting Arroyo’s motion for demurrer to evidence, the high tribunal essentially found the evidence against her weak.
The acquittal will mean the former president will soon be free to leave Veterans Memorial Medical Center where she has been detained under hospital arrest since 2012.
Speaking to Rappler, Arroyo’s counsel Atty. Ferdinand Topacio praised the ruling.
“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,” he said.