Manila: Activists almost prevented the entourage of former President (now congresswoman) Gloria Arroyo, when she left the hospital in suburban Quezon City where she has been held since late last year for alleged electoral fraud, after a regional trial court in Pasay City allowed her to post 1 million pesos (Dh83,333) bail.
For one hour, anti-Arroyo activists, most of them leftists, blocked her entourage as she left the Veterans Memorial Medical Centre in Quezon City. She arrived at her house in a heavily guarded subdivision in La Vista Subdivision at past four in the afternoon.
“The case filed against her was railroaded in the first place. Witnesses who have testified so far against her were considered hearsay. They failed to directly prove that she masterminded an alleged electoral fraud to benefit the senatorial candidates of the former ruling party in 2007,” said her lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio.
“The court believes that the prosecution failed to establish with the required quantum of proof, that conspiracy exists on the part of accused Arroyo. Accordingly, accused Gloria Arroyo is allowed to post bail for her provisional liberty in the amount of one million pesos,” said Justice Jesus Mupas in the ruling of the Pasay City regional trial court.
It was signed at past noon.
She will be brought to an alternative wellness centre in southern Tagaytay on Thursday, to “help ease her pain in the spine, near the neck,” her children said in a radio interview.
She has been weakened by more than eight months of being under arrest in hospital, the children said.
The former president appeared quiet thin in the pictures and video tapes that managed to record her departure from the hospital.
Her lawyers did not confirm if she will be attending sessions at the House of Representatives while her case is being heard at the Pasay City regional trial court.
She won a seat representing her hometown in central Luzon in the 2010 elections.
Meanwhile, the presidential palace said the granting of bail to Arroyo would not affect the filing of other plunder cases against her.
The complaint filed against her for alleged election fraud in 2007 was immediately elevated by the justice department and the Commission on Elections to the regional trial court, right after the Supreme Court ruled (at a time that there was no case filed against her yet) that she could leave for Singapore for medical treatment late last year.
She was also charged at the Ombudsman for alleged $8 million misappropriation of the Philippine Sweepstakes Charity lottery funds. A complaint was filed against her for corruption, for pursuing a graft-ridden government contract with China to set up the country’s national government broadband system.
Aquino served the last three years of former President Joseph Estrada, from 2001 to 2004, after his ouster by military-backed street protests that were launched by those who were against the abrupt ending of his impeachment trial at the Senate in late 2000.
She won a six-year term in the 2004 elections. Her opponents claimed she rigged the elections, the reason why she won with one million lead over widely popular former actor and director, Fernando Poe Jr. He died of heart attack in late 2004.