Christmas furlough for detained Arroyo sought

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

FORMER President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should be granted a Christmas furlough by the Sandiganbayan for "humanitarian and compassionate considerations," 1-BAP party-list Representative Silvestre Bello III said Wednesday.

Bello was a Cabinet member during the administration of Arroyo.

Arroyo, who is on her second term as congresswoman of the second district of Pampanga, is currently detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City over the alleged misuse of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.

In House Resolution 537, Bello said Arroyo "must be allowed to leave the hospital and spend the Christmas holidays at home surrounded by her loving family so she will be given the opportunity to regain her health and be strong enough to face the charges against her and defend herself in court."

The party-list representative said she last saw Arroyo during a golf tournament at the VMMC compound three weeks ago.

"I saw her walking at Veterans. Nakita ko ang physical appearance niya; talagang payat na payat. She's really sick and needs medical attention... From my assessment, talagang may sakit siya. She couldn't even barely speak to me," he told reporters.

Bello noted that Arroyo is suffering from hypoparathyroidism and has recurrent difficulty in swallowing solid food due to esophageal stenosis.

"Her doctors believe that full recovery from certain illnesses requires a holistic approach that includes family support, emotional stability, and spiritual upliftment which a patient cannot attain while being confined in a hospital," the resolution said.

Last year, Arroyo, through her lawyer, filed a motion before the Sandiganbayan requesting the court to allow her to spend Christmas and New Year in her residence in Lubao, Pampanga. The motion was denied.

Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares, and ACT Teachers party-list Representative Antonio Tinio, both allies of Bello under the House minority bloc, opposed the resolution.

"So every Christmas, pwede mag-grant ng furlough pero kung ordinary snatcher siya eh walang furlough?" Colmenares said.

Tinio, for his part, said Arroyo is already enjoying special treatment being a patient-detainee of the VMMC.

"She is already enjoying special considerations. She is serving her detention in a hospital and not a detention cell due to her situation," Tinio said. (Sunnex)

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