Supreme Court rules to free former President Arroyo

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the plunder case against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo because of insufficient evidence and ordered her immediate release from her hospital detention.

The High Court had ruled in favor of Arroyo's demurrer to evidence in charges that she misused ₱366 million in intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) from 2008 to 2010.

Arroyo has denied receiving any Sweepstakes money and any wrongdoing in the disbursement or use of PCSO funds. She asked the court to dismiss the plunder charge on grounds that the evidence against her were insufficient.

Reading the decision, Supreme Court Spokesperson Theodore Te said the justices voted 11-4 to dismiss the case against Arroyo and to order her immediate release.

 

The justices who dissented from the majority decision were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, and Associate Justice Alfredo Caguioa.

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Arroyo was arrested in 2012 and is being held at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City after being diagnosed with cervical spondylosis, a degenerative disease of the bones and cartilage of the neck.

Arroyo has posted bail in a corruption case in connection with the $329 million aborted national broadband deal with a Chinese company. She has also posted bail in the election sabotage case against her in a Pasay City court.

The plunder charge against former PCSO budget and accounts manager Benigno Aguas was also dismissed.

GMA thanks Duterte

In a statement she issued after the court ruled, Arroyo thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for allowing due process to take its course “totally unhampered.”

“It is my fervent hope that nobody else will suffer the persecution that had been levied on me through self-serving interpretation and implementation of the law. And that the disregard of truth for which I was made to suffer be dealt with accordingly at the soonest possible time,” she said.

She was also grateful to the Supreme Court for ruling in her favor and hopes that the public will respect and recognize its decision.

She also thanked her supporters for their prayers and support in keeping her faith and conviction that truth and justice will prevail.

“Keep the faith in the justice system,” said Arroyo.

Arroyo camp grateful

 

Arroyo, who has been re-elected as representative of her home district in Pampanga, may attend the opening session of Congress on Monday, said former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza, one of Arroyo’s lawyers.

“She can now consider herself free and in liberty,” Mendoza said. “She can now fully serve her constituents.”

Another lawyer for Arroyo, Laurence Arroyo, said they were grateful for the Supreme Court ruling.

"Finally, after the long night, the dawn has arrived. Former President Arroyo has been vindicated," he said.

In a CNN Philippines interview with Ferdinand Topacio, a spokesperson for Arroyo’s husband, Mike Arroyo, said the former president is excited to come home to her family.