Ex-President Arroyo to be arraigned Thursday-A A +A
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
MANILA (Updated 12:38 p.m.) -- Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be arraigned Thursday at the Pasay City Regional Trial Court branch 112 months after she was charged with electoral sabotage by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Judge Jesus Mupas earlier reset Arroyo's arraignment to March 19 to give time for the resolution of the pending motions filed by the former leader's two co-accused.
Former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former election supervisor Lintang Bedol, Arroyo's co-accused, have separately filed motions to dismiss the case and motion for judicial determination of probable cause.
But after last Friday's hearing, Mupas granted the request of Arroyo's camp to have a separate arraignment from her co-accused. Arroyo cited security concern and her delicate health condition in asking for a separate arraignment.
The former leader's camp had said setting her arraignment on the same day as her co-accused would be a security nightmare for the authorities and that a separate appearance before the court would not affect the arraignment of Ampatuan and Bedol.
Arroyo, 64, is now under hospital arrest at the state-run Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City. The court has allowed her to stay at hospital as her doctors said the former President still needs treatment for her recurring back pains.
However, Mupas pointed out that Arroyo may still be transferred to a regular jail, as petitioned by the Comelec, if her physical condition improves.
Her co-accused, Ampatuan, who is also facing multiple murder charges in connection with the November 2009 Maguindanao massacre, is detained at the Metro Manila District Jail (MMDJ) at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. Bedol, on the other hand, is serving a sentence for contempt at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
The Comelec has charged the trio with conspiring to rig the results of the 2007 midterm elections in the Mindanao.
As of Wednesday, the Southern Police District (SPD) and the Quezon City Police Department (QCPD) have started rehearsing security measures in coordination with the court for Arroyo's arraignment.
Police are also preparing for possibility of pro-and-anti-Arroyo groups showing up at the court on Arroyo's arraignment to show their support or protest.
On the other hand, QCPD chief Mario dela Vega said security will be tight to ensure the safety of the former President, adding that more than a dozen patrol cars from his command will be escorting the convoy that will transport the Arroyo from the VMMC to the court.
Personnel from the QCPD and the APD augmented by a contingent from the Eastern Police District (EPD) will also secure the convoy and the courtroom during the arraignment while personnel from the Civil Disturbance Management (CDM) unit would also be deployed to prevent any clashes between pro and anti-Arroyo groups.
Dela Vega said though that QCPD has not monitored any threat to the former President and that the tight security arrangements are being done to ensure her safety. (AH/Sunnex)