Court grants Arroyo’s plea to reset arraignment over plunder suit-A A +A
Monday, October 15, 2012
MANILA -- The Sandiganbayan on Monday deferred the arraignment of former President and Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over the non-bailable plunder suit filed against her.
Arroyo, through her lawyer Anacleto Diaz, earlier sought the deferment of her arraignment to allow her to seek remedy before the Supreme Court (SC). The arraignment was reset to October 29.
Former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Manuel Morato’s arraignment was also reset to October 29. Morato is detained at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City due to a heart ailment.
“Their arraignment was reset to October 29 which according to the court would give them sufficient time to secure from the Supreme Court any temporary restraining order,” Sandiganbayan spokesperson Renato Bocar said in a television interview.
Both Morato and Arroyo, who were arrested last week over a plunder case in connection with the alleged misuse of PCSO P366-million intelligence funds, did not attend the scheduled arraignment Monday.
Although moved out of the intensive care unit of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC), Arroyo’s doctors advised her not to attend the arraignment.
On Friday, Arroyo was said to show signs of coronary ischemia. She was told to undergo a stress echo test at the Philippine Heart Center or any hospital that offers the test.
Arroyo’s lawyers earlier filed a motion to place the former President under hospital arrest. The court had issued a subpoena to VMMC director Dr. Nona Legaspi to “substantiate” the Arroyo camp’s petition.
Although the prosecution did not object to the motion to place Arroyo under hospital arrest, it said they prefer the former President be detained in the Philippine National Police General Hospital and that she shoulders all hospital expenses.
Prosecution lawyers also insisted on Arroyo’s arraignment even if it had to be conducted inside a hospital.
Before her arrest, Arroyo was out on provisional liberty after a Pasay City court granted her petition for bail over a separate electoral sabotage case.
Meanwhile, former PCSO Chairman Sergio Valencia and PCSO Assistant Manager for Finance Benigno Aguas who was also charged with plunder entered a not guilty plea.
The preliminary conference for the two has been set on October 22. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)