Former President Arroyo walks free after 4 years in detention

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo waited three days before walking out of a government hospital, which has been her home for the past four years after she was arrested on plunder charges.

She was ordered freed by the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan after the Supreme Court voted 11-4 on Tuesday to dismiss the plunder case because of insufficient evidence in connection with allegations she and other officials misused P366 million in state charity fund.

The high tribunal also ordered her immediate release from hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) but it took until Thursday to prepare all the court documents needed to implement the decision, including collecting the signatures of the justices on the majority decision plus the submission of separate dissenting opinions.

From the Veterans hospital, Arroyo headed home to La Vista Subdivision in a convoy escorted by the police under pouring rain.

She has been detained at the hospital after her arrest in 2012 when she was diagnosed with cervical spondylosis, a degenerative disease of the bones and cartilage of the neck.

Gloria-Arroyo-SC-ruling-dispositive-CNNPH.jpg  

After receiving its copy of the official court ruling, the Sandiganbayan issued its own minute resolution telling the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Veterans hospital authorities to release Arroyo, as well as her co-accused former PCSO Budget and Accounts Manager Benigno Aguas, who was detained at the PNP Custodial Center.

Timeline: The Gloria Arroyo PCSO plunder case

Possible charges against Aquino

After taking office in 2010, Aquino targeted the alleged massive corruption during Arroyo’s nine-year administration.

Following his administration’s battlecry “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” [where there is no corruption, there is no poverty] and the “Daang Matuwid” [Straight Path] governance, Aquino pursued cases against Arroyo and other officials under her administration.

Arroyo and several officers of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office were accused of plunder in a conspiracy to divert P366 million in intelligence funds from the charity from 2008 to 2010.

Aquino’s government also prevented her from leaving the country to seek medical treatment abroad, and her petitions to the Sandiganbayan to get outside treatment have also been denied.

Ferdinand Topacio, a lawyer for Arroyo's husband, said they are carefully studying the possibility of pressing charges against Aquino.

According to Topacio, Aquino may be charged with malicious prosecution, non-feasance, malfeasance or civil suit for damages.

Some supporters of Arroyo also said they want to pursue cases against Aquino in connection with Disbursement Acceleration Program, a controversial government spending scheme.

Also read: Arroyo’s lawyer says timing of SC decision, in ‘deference’ to Aquino

Home sweet Home

Waiting for her release, Arroyo’s supporters waited outside the VMMC since Wednesday holding placards of greetings and well wishes for the former President.

Gloria-Arroyo-support-militant-groups-CNNPH.jpg Militant group Kongreso ng Maralitang Pilipino celebrates ex-Pres. Arroyo's freedom from 'political persecution.'  

Supporters also placed tarpaulins welcoming the Lubao representative home at the gate of La Vista Subdivision  in Quezon City where she lives.

Gloria-Arroyo-support-militant-groups-4-CNNPH.jpg  

CNN Philippines’ Rex Remitio, Anjo Alimario, AC Nicholls and Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.

Also read: Erap on dismissal of Arroyo’s plunder case: Been there, felt that