Speaker: Arroyo should be allowed to have more visitors on her birthday

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014


HOUSE Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Tuesday said the court should allow former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to have more visitors during her 67th birthday next month.

Arroyo's camp sought the permission of the Sandiganbayan First Division for a three-day furlough to celebrate her birthday in her home town in Lubao, Pampanga, on April 5.

Belmonte believed that Arroyo should be allowed to have visitors beyond the frequent ones on her special day.

"They should allow visitors more than the usual constringe to at least visit with her [on her] birthday… one, two or three days before and after that point," Belmonte said.

The Speaker, however, refused to give comment whether the Arroyo should be allowed to celebrate her natal day in her home town Lubao.

"There's no official action done here. Our official stand is always been, this is within the purview. The exclusive jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan and political considerations emanating from the Congress should not infringe on the authority of the Sandiganbayan," Belmonte said.

Arroyo is now under hospital-arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City for plunder, in connection with the alleged malversation of the P366-million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) intelligence fund.

Arroyo's lawyer Modesto Ticman said his client wants to leave the VMMC premises from April 4 to 6 to be with her relatives and friends.

"One's natal day is not just an ordinary day in one's existence but a celebration of the gift of life and thus, is supposed to be a joyous occasion. (Arroyo's) simple request for said furlough is in full accord with her constitutionally-guaranteed right to be presumed innocent," Ticman said.

The lawyer also said that Arroyo's health continue to deteriorate as she is having difficulty in swallowing food and experiencing pain and discomfort from her defective cervical spine.

Last February, the First Division also junked the former President's petition for bail since the court have stated that "[She] cannot be treated differently from other detainees, who could [also] argue that their continues confinement will result [in] severe depression causing them to succumb to different types of serious illnesses." (Sunnex)

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