Belmonte 'hands off' on furlough request for Arroyo

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Monday, December 9, 2013

HOUSE Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Monday said it is up to the Sandiganbayan to decide whether former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should be allowed to spend the holidays with her family.

"I myself will keep my hands off it, and let it go through the process without any pro or con. On my part, I certainly would not want to stop it or to obstruct it, but at the same time, I think this is something that is properly addressed to the sound discretion of the court," Belmonte said.

Last week, at least 50 lawmakers backed House Resolution 537 filed by 1-BAP party-list Representative Silvestre Bello III urging the Sandiganbayan to grant Arroyo a Christmas furlough for "humanitarian and compassionate considerations."

Bello was a Cabinet secretary during the Arroyo administration.

Some of those who signed the resolution include Representatives Antonio Lagdameo (Davao del Norte), Rodolfo Albano III (Isabela), Aleta Suarez (Quezon), Bellaflor Angara-Castillo (Aurora), Ronaldo Zamora (San Juan), Baby Arenas (Pangasinan), Lito Atienza (Buhay party-list), Mercedes Cagas (Davao del Sur), Gwendolyn Garcia (Cebu), Lani Mercado-Revilla (Cavite), and Philip Pichay (Surigao del Sur), among others.

Even Quezon City Representative Christopher "Kit" Belmonte, a nephew of the House Speaker, signed the resolution.

But the House leader said he would rather leave the decision up to the anti-graft court.

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.

"I think that the justices there do have some leeway, particularly on humanitarian grounds, and so forth, and the same grounds being cited by the resolution filed by Cong Bello. So, as far as I am concerned I just keep my hands off it," Belmonte said. (Sunnex)

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