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Pro-Aquino former chief justice bats for Arroyo’s house arrest

One indication of the depths of moral depravity of President Aquino 3rd , and his candidate Manuel Roxas 2nd , has been their persecution of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a 68-year old grandmother with a life-threatening disease.

Even those who have been close to Aquino have been puzzled over his ruthless enmity against Arroyo.

Is it because he foolishly thinks – as, indeed, he indicated in his last SONA – that the jailing of a former president is a must-display trophy for his success in his purported anti-corruption campaign?

Is it because – as I had been told by sources close to him way back in 2010 when I couldn’t believe he would strive to jail Arroyo – he felt insulted when he and his mother weren’t allowed by the military police to enter Fort Bonifacio to join a megalomaniac Marine colonel’s pathetic attempt at triggering a coup in 2006?

Is it because his entire narrative, without which he doesn’t deserve to be president for a minute, is based on the frenzy six years ago that Arroyo is the counterpart of Marcos, which his mother fought? The frenzy has abated, with the ‘mob’ going back to their homes, not surprisingly if after five years of ransacking every single filing cabinet and computer hard disc in Malacanang, Aquino’s people still couldn’t concoct any evidence against her alleged corruption.

By his refusal alone to lift a finger to stop Aquino 3rd from persecuting Arroyo, Roxas 2nd proves he cannot be President.

Salonga, house arrest in 1972; Aquino, to Boston, US, in 1980; Estrada, to his farm in Tanay; Arroyo, Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center.
Salonga, house arrest in 1972; Aquino, to Boston, US, in 1980; Estrada, to his farm in Tanay; Arroyo, Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center.

Would you trust a person like Roxas who had been Arroyo’s trusted Cabinet member (I know, I was there and worked with him in some key initiatives), who had been given everything he wanted when he was her trade and industry secretary, and who knows in his heart of hearts that the accusations against Arroyo are hogwash, yet has chosen to go against her because such media-led frenzy was so intense he worried that his ambition to be President would have been endangered if he didn’t take that adversarial position against her? Would you vote as President a political opportunist who acted out the anti-Arroyo role with gusto, even in such a vulgar way as to start his diatribe against her by shouting “Putangina”?

I have realized since I started this column that small minds would instantly resort to ad hominem arguments after reading these paragraphs. Instead of evaluating the evidence and logic I present, they dismiss them on grounds that I am biased as I had served the government under Arroyo.

So, instead of explaining in my own way the injustice Arroyo has suffered, let me quote at length a column yesterday of former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban. His credibility in explaining the injustice against Arroyo is not just because he was a former Supreme Court head, a legal luminary who knows what rule of law really means.

Panganiban in his very subtle way has been Aquino’s fan, even expressing support in 2012 in his columns for another Chief Justice’s impeachment. I would think he has been the spokesperson of that faction of the elite supportive of the Yellow lord, being on the board of over two dozen huge firms such as the Lopez-controlled First Philippine Holdings, Meralco, Manila Tollways Corp., PLDT, GMA Holdings and so on.

I guess, though, that Panganiban, after reading how bad Arroyo’s health has been, retains that kind of decency that is a mark of the previous generation, which Aquino 3rd and Roxas 2nd of the new generation utterly do not have an iota of.

Following is Panganiban’s article, with the emphasis in bold font mine:

Meanwhile, let me take up a third set of cases mentioned also in P-Noy’s Sona involving former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

To be accurate, two cases have been filed against GMA. The first charged her with electoral sabotage for her alleged role in the manipulation of the 2007 election results in Maguindanao. Her co-accused include former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., who recently passed away, and Lintang Bedol, the former provincial election supervisor of the Commission on Elections in Maguindanao.

Because she was indicted with a capital offense, she was arrested and detained upon orders of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay. However, on June 12, 2012, the RTC granted her bail on the ground that the evidence presented by the prosecution during the bail hearings was “not strong.”

After the trial court denied its motion for reconsideration, the prosecution appealed the grant of bail to the Court of Appeals (CA). However, the CA dismissed the petition; it agreed with the RTC that the only evidence linking GMA to the alleged crime—the testimony of a lone witness—was not credible and failed to establish the “strong” evidence required by law to detain the accused pending trial on the merits.

Not released, anyway
Nonetheless, GMA was not released due to the filing of the second case, which charged her with plunder at the First Division of the Sandiganbayan (SBN) for the alleged unauthorized disbursement and illegal use of P366 million of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.

After the prosecution finished presenting its side, GMA and her co-accused filed a demurrer (or motion to dismiss) on the ground that the evidence failed to establish her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Because the three members of the First Division were divided, a Special Division of five justices was created pursuant to the “Internal Rules” of the SBN.

On April 6, 2015, a majority composed of three justices (Efren dela Cruz, Napoleon Inoturan and Rafael Lagos, the ponente) denied the demurrer, holding that the prosecution’s evidence showed a prima facie case of plunder.

Moreover, unless sufficient contrary evidence is presented by the defense, GMA and her co-accused, former PCSO executive Benigno Aguas, would be convicted of the crime. Hence, their detention without bail was upheld pending the reception of their countervailing evidence.

However, the indictment against another co-accused, former PCSO chair Sergio Valencia, was downgraded to malversation. Since this is not a capital offense, he was allowed to post bail of P500,000.

On the other hand, the majority granted the demurrer of and acquitted four other co-accused—former PCSO chair Manuel Morato, former PCSO board members Raymundo Roquero and Jose Taruc, and former Commission on Audit chair Reynaldo Villar.

The minority of two justices (Rodolfo Ponferrada and Alex Quiroz) opined that the prosecution’s evidence did not prove all the elements of plunder; consequently, GMA and Aguas should, like Valencia, be charged only with malversation. And since this is a bailable offense, they should be granted bail.

GMA moved for a reconsideration of the denial of her demurrer. Despite the pendency of the motion, the SBN scheduled the hearing to receive her countervailing evidence on Aug. 26.

Frustrated by the denial of her demurrer and bail plea, GMA filed, on April 8, 2015, a motion to change her place of detention from the Veterans Memorial Medical Center to her house at 14 Badjao Street, La Vista, Quezon City.

She averred that she is not a flight risk at all, given that she is already “68 years old, has undergone three spinal surgeries, remains frail and thin, and to this day, enjoys the presumption of innocence… [and] hopes that [her] house arrest can help her recuperate and heal more quickly and fully.”

For these very same reasons, former president Joseph Estrada, while detained in a prosecution for plunder during GMA’s presidency, was allowed by the SBN to be transferred to his farm in Tanay, Rizal.

Also, during the Marcos regime, opposition senator Jovito R. Salonga was released from military custody and placed “under house arrest in the custody of Mrs. Lydia Salonga.”

End of Panganiban’s column.

And I might add, Aquino’s father, Benigno 2nd, convicted by a military court of subversion and murder and to be executed by firing squad, was sent to the US, fare courtesy of taxpayers, to undergo a heart operation that saved his life and allowed him to stay comfortably in Boston where they spent their “happiest years ever,” according to his wife Cory – by his arch-enemy Marcos, who thought he could rule forever.

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