GMA asks Sandiganbayan to grant bail in PCSO plunder case

Photo Credit: Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines – The former president and incumbent Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) asked the Sandiganbayan on Wednesday to allow her to post bail in the plunder case filed against her, in connection with the P366-M Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) scam.

Modesto Ticman, Jr., Arroyo’s lawyer, shared to the court that Sandiganbayan Associate Justices Rodolfo Ponferrada and Jose Hernandez have elected to grant Arroyo’s earlier motion to bail. This decision was, however, opposed by three other justices of Sandiganbayan.

Ponferrada shared that as for his opinion then, “the prosecution failed to show or prove strong evidence of guilt of any of the accused as the principal witness failed to point the presence or whereabouts of the ill-gotten wealth.”

Ticman noted that the other co-accused of Arroyo, namely Jose Taruc V and Reynaldo Villar “who even evaded arrest for almost two years and only surfaces belatedly to surrender were immediately granted bail, no ifs and buts.”

“Why should accused PGMA be treated differently?” the lawyer asked.

The lawyer added that the medical condition of Arroyo shows that she should be granted bail, adding that the confinement at Veterans Memorial Medical Center “has not contributed to the improvement of her medical condition, but has in fact exacerbated the same.”

Dr. Martha Nucum, issued a medical certificate issued on June 23, 2014, stating that since Arroyo’s confinement at the hospital in December 2011, after three medical spine surgeries, she “has not been cured of her illness and she continues to feel the ill effects of her previous surgeries.”

Photo Credit: PhilStar
Photo Credit: PhilStar

Ticman further explained that “the adverse and negative effects of depression that are being brought about by her (Arroyo) hospital incarceration continue to take its toll on her health.”

It was noted that the plunder complaint was filed against Arroyo with the Ombudsman by Jaime Regalario, Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and former Army general Danilo Lim on July 26, 2011. They accused the respondents of the case of performing “various acts” to “surreptitiously divert” public funds, amounting to P366 million, sourced from PCSO’s operating budget “for personal gain.”

Among those accused together with Arroyo, are former PCSO board chairman Sergio Valencia, Benigno Aguas which is the former PCSO assistant general manager for finance, and PCSO board member Raymundo Roquero.