MANILA – The Sandiganbayan has submitted for resolution the birthday furlough petition of former President and now Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from April 4 to 6.
Arroyo's lawyer Modesto Ticman Jr. presented to the anti-graft court's 1st Division the report of Dr. Martha Nucum, medical team head and chief of Veterans Memorial Medical Center's Medical Professional Staff.
While Arroyo has not yet fully recovered from her illness, Nucum said it will be good for the overall wellness of the former president if she will be allowed to see her family members and friends.
Arroyo will be turning 67 on April 5.
In a medical report dated March 5, Nucum said Arroyo is suffering from esophageal stenosis, or the tightening of the esophagus, which contributes to "poor appetite."
She said Arroyo is also complaining of “cervical radicular pain and low back pain.”
The former president’s MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) study shows she has multilevel spine compression and bone degeneration (osteoarthritis).
She is now getting twice weekly physiotherapy as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
However, these procedures can only bring temporary relief, Nucum said.
Ticman, meanwhile, said travelling 2 hours from VMMC to Lubao, Pampanga will not be detrimental to the former leader's health.
In her petition, Arroyo offered to shoulder the expenses for her furlough, including food, fuel and extra costs by her escorts.
The prosecution, however, is opposing the petition.
Assistant Special Prosecutor Honorio Ebora Jr. said the plunder case Arroyo is facing over the alleged plunder of P366 million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds is non-bailable and the evidence of guilt against her is strong.
Ebora said granting the petition would be a mockery of the justice system and set a bad precedent.
Ticman said the defense panel expects a decision on its petition within five days. – with a report from Johnson Manabat, dzMM