MANILA (Mabuhay) – Government lawyers have asked the Sandiganbayan to deny the requested Christmas furlough of former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, saying it has no legal basis and will set a dangerous precedent for other detainees.
“[Arroyo] has no legal basis for a temporary liberty from confinement, being a detention prisoner charged with a non-bailable offense,” the prosecution team said in its comment filed last week.
“It must be pointed out that should the accused’s motion be granted, it opens doors to every detained person to apply for a prison furlough and be allowed temporary liberty to be able to celebrate the holidays,” the prosecution added.
Last week, Arroyo filed a motion to be allowed to stay for 12 days in her La Vista home from December 23, 2014 to January 3, 2015 to celebrate Christmas and New Year with her family and relatives.
In her motion, the former leader asked for “compassion” to be allowed to spend Christmas season with her family.
“In the spirit of the Yuletide season and for humanitarian and compassionate considerations and Christian charity, accused Arroyo is thus humbly and sincerely begging the Honorable Court that she be granted leave from 23 December 2014 to 03 January 2015 to celebrate Christmas and New Year with her family and relatives at her residence at No. 14 Badjao Street, La Vista, Quezon City, “ Arroyo’s motion said.
However, the prosecution maintained that Arroyo has no legal ground to stand on in asking for a furlough.
“Her assertion is merely anchored on the magnanimity and compassion of the Honorable Court because of the yuletide season rather than it is granted to her by law,” state lawyers noted.
Arroyo is currently under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City for a plunder case in connection with the alleged misuse of P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) intelligence funds during her term as President.
The anti-graft court has denied all of Arroyo’s earlier pleas for bail and furloughs, expect for earlier this month, when the Sandiganbayan granted Arroyo’s request for furlough to attend the wake and interment of her one-year-old grandson in North Forbes Park, Makati City.
The court allowed Arroyo to attend the wake for nine days from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., and the interment on Nov. 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (MNS)