MANILA, Philippines – Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo may soon be seeing the inside of a Philippine jail unless her defense lawyers prove that she needs to stay at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City.
Prosecution Bureau II director Diosdado Calonge, lead prosecutor in the plunder case against Mrs. Arroyo, said the government will ask the Sandiganbayan First Division to transfer the defendant to a regular jail unless the defense can show convincing proof that she requires hospitalization.
"What's sauce for the goose should also be sauce for the gander. There should be no special treatment. Anyway she has been previously discharged (from the hospital) at the advice of her doctors," the prosecutor said.
Calonge said they will ask the anti-graft court on Thursday for at least five more days to comment on the motion for hospital arrest.
He said that while he doesn’t see the need to summon Arroyo’s physicians, the prosecution will probably ask some medical experts “to explain the need for her to be in hospital.”
The prosecution is also amenable to an option to have Mrs. Arroyo detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Mrs. Arroyo was indicted for plunder in connection with alleged fraudulent transfer of P366 million confidential/intelligence fund of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office from 2008 to 2010.
Named co-accused were PCSO Board of Directors chairman Sergio O. Valencia; former PCSO general manager Rosario C. Uriarte; PCSO directors Manuel L. Morato, Jose R. Taruc V, Raymundo T. Roquero and Ma. Fatima A. S. Valdes; PCSO budget officer Benigno B. Aguas; former Commission on Audit chairman Reynaldo A. Villar and former COA-Intelligence Fund Unit head Nilda B. Plaras.
The Arroyo camp earlier filed a petition before the Sandiganbayan, asking the anti-graft court to allow the former President to stay inside the VMMC.
"Accused GMA (Arroyo) is not medically fit to be detained in a non-medical facility. (She) pleads that as she faces the charges against her, she be accorded full opportunity to restore her health so that she may properly defend herself," the defense said.
The defense noted the former President suffers various ailments including spine problem, hypertension, dehydration, drastic weight loss and inability to swallow.
A Sandiganbayan spokesman earlier said Mrs. Arroyo will continue to stay at the VMMC unless the court orders her transfer.
Executive Clerk of Court Atty Renato Bocar said the anti-graft court is set to hear Arroyo’s motion on Thursday, October 11, at 8:30 a.m.
"Hindi porket pwede na i-discharge ay otomatikong ilalabas na ng hospital, may proseso tayong sinusunod,” he said.
He said Arroyo and other detained co-accused must appear personally before the justices on Thursday.