Gloria Arroyo welcome in PNoy's SONA: Belmonte

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 07 2012 02:21 AM | Updated as of Jun 07 2012 10:21 AM

MANILA, Philippines - House Speaker Sonny Belmonte on Wednesday sad former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is welcome to attend President Benigno Aquino's State of the Nation Address (SONA) next month if she is allowed to post bail.

"Why not? Oo kung she's not under detention by court order, she should be welcome here same as any member," Belmonte said.

Arroyo has a pending bail petition before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court in connection with an electoral sabotage case filed against her for the 2007 elections in Maguindanao.

An Arroyo ally, House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, expressed hope that the former President will be allowed to post bail after former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos was allowed to post bail for a similar charge.

Belmonte doesn't see Arroyo's bail or presence during the SONA as a dampener to Aquino's SONA.

Aquino has been calling for Arroyo's accountability for her 9-year-presidency over various controversies.

Belmonte, meanwhile, said that even if she's allowed to post bail, Arroyo will still have to seek a separate travel permit from the courts before she can leave the country.

Arroyo's allies have been seeking medical treatment for Arroyo overseas.

Belmonte said the Philippines has many able doctors to treat the Pampanga lawmaker. He added that if the expertise needed is not available here, doctors can just be flown to the country.

Belmonte, meantime, noted that the Ombudsman’s decision to clear Arroyo from bribery and corruption cases over the 2004 elections proves Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is "far from being a hatchetwoman."

"We have an Ombudsman here who applies the law as she described herself. Fair and even handed. When people are like that, the institutions are stronger," he said.