Prosecution to Gloria Arroyo: Stop abusing the court’s compassion

Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo arrives with husband, Jose Miguel, at the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court in Quezon City, Metro Manila, April 11, 2012. Arroyo entered a plead of not guilty to allegations of graft and corruption in the tainted telecommunications deal with China in 2007. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo (PHILIPPINES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)

Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo arrives with husband, Jose Miguel, at the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court in Quezon City, Metro Manila, April 11, 2012. Arroyo entered a plead of not guilty to allegations of graft and corruption in the tainted telecommunications deal with China in 2007. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo (PHILIPPINES – Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — Government prosecutors have once again expressed their “vehement opposition” to the motion of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to be placed under house arrest, saying the incumbent Pampanga lawmaker should stop using her health condition in “abusing” the court’s compassion.

“The Honorable Court has been compassionate [to] her plight and that is the reason she was put under hospital arrest. She should not be allowed to abuse such compassion by unreasonably demanding more,” the prosecution team said in a four-page opposition paper submitted to the Sandiganbayan’s First Division.

In further justifying Mrs. Arroyo’s motion for house arrest filed last April, her legal counsels submitted to the court earlier last month the latest medical certificate of the former Philippine leader signed by two of her attending physicians at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC).

In the medical certificate, spine surgeon Dr. Antonio Sison and VMMC Clinincal Support Services head Martha Nucum attested that Mrs. Arroyo’s condition has not been improving since after her three major cervical spine surgeries in 2011.

“In spite of all the medical modalities rendered, she has not shown any significant clinical improvement and she continues to feel the ill effects of her previous surgeries,” the medical certificate read.

Sison and Nucum said Mrs. Arroyo’s condition would more likely not improve if she continues to be confined in the hospital.

“A holistic approach is the best option in her case which includes family bonding, emotional stability and spiritual upliftment which cannot be attained in her present status,” the medical certificate read.

But the prosecution argued that given Mrs. Arroyo’s frail health condition, the hospital is still the “ideal place” for her confinement.

“Based on accused-movant’s latest medical certificate, she is still suffering from degenerative and irreversible bone disease. However, there is no clear and convincing evidence presented to prove that taking her out of hospital confinement will cure her or at least arrest the deterioration of her health,” the prosecution team said.

“Thus it is the prosecution’s submission that due to her delicate condition, the VMMC is the ideal place for her confinement where doctors and medical facilities are easily within reach,” the prosecution added.

House arrest plea

Mrs. Arroyo has been under hospital arrest at the VMMC in Quezon City since 2012 for a plunder case in connection with the alleged misuse of P366 million from the intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) during her term as president.

The prosecution also pointed out that placing Mrs. Arroyo under house arrest would entail lots of security procedures and resources as authorities would have to ensure the safety and privacy not only of Mrs. Arroyo but also of the entire neighborhood.

In her motion, the former Philippine leader asked the anti-graft court to allow her to be placed under house arrest either in her residence in La Vista Subdivision in Quezon City or in her provincial residence in Barangay San Nicolas in Lubao, Pampanga.

In supplemental documents submitted by Mrs. Arroyo’s lawyers to the court, the homeowners association of La Vista Subdivision, in a letter, said they have “no objection” if Mrs. Arroyo will be transferred to her house in the subdivision.

Meanwhile, the Sangguniang Barangay of San Nicolas passed a resolution declaring that the house arrest bid of the 68-year-old lawmaker “has the full support of the barangay.”

But despite these declarations from the La Vista and San Nicolas residents, the prosecution panel said it still “vehemently opposes” Mrs. Arroyo’s motion.

“To insist that Mrs. Arroyo be placed on house arrest would pose a serious threat to her personal security and medical condition and it will also compromise the privacy and security of the residents of the two proposed places,” the prosecution said.

Further, the prosecution maintained that the security of the general public must not be compromised just to secure one person.

“Moreover, the public in general would be deprived of the services of the Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel who would secure her. The component groups of the PNP are vital to the security of the public in general and should not be utilized just to secure one person,” the prosecution said.

Finally, the prosecution said granting the house arrest plea would “set a bad precedent” as there are other detention prisoners also suffering from frail health condition.

“Accused-movant must be treated similarly with other detention prisoners and should not be given special treatment…It must be pointed out that there are detention prisoners also charged with plunder who are similarly situated with herein movant. Thus, granting her a leeway to modify her custodial arrangement would set a bad precedent,” the prosecution said.

After the prosecution’s submission of its comment on the supplemental documents of Mrs. Arroyo’s camp, the motion for house arrest was now deemed submitted for resolution. (MNS)

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