Court issues arrest warrant vs GMA

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 18 2011 04:05 PM | Updated as of Nov 19 2011 07:06 AM

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - A Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge has issued an arrest warrant against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after she was charged with electoral sabotage by the Commission Elections (Comelec) on Friday morning.

Pasay RTC 112 Judge Jesus Mupas issued the arrest warrants for Arroyo, former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., and former election supervisor Lintang Bedol.

As of posting time, Mrs. Arroyo was still at the St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig City, but is booked to leave for Singapore at 5:10 p.m.

Ampatuan is detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in connection with the Maguindanao massacre. Bedol is also under detention.

In a press conference in Malacañang, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that with the issuance of the arrest warrant, the issue of the Supreme Court's temporary restraining order (TRO) allowing the Arroyos to leave in the country "has become moot and academic."

As a result, De Lima said Mrs. Arroyo is now compelled to stay in the country to face election sabotage charges.

Electoral sabotage is a non-bailable offense.

De Lima said the government will not object to a hosptial arrest for Mrs. Arroyo. She said this is up to the court to decide.

In a press conference after the arrest warrant was issued, SC spokesman Midas Marquez said the Supreme Court's temporary restraining order (TRO) allowing Mrs. Arroyo to leave still stands.

However, in view of the Pasay Regional Trial Court's (RTC) issuance of an arrest warrant against Arroyo for electoral sabotage, she is now barred from leaving.

A lawyer of the Commission on Elections filed on Friday electoral sabotage charges against Arroyo, Ampatuan and Bedol for allegedly rigging the results of the 2007 mid-term elections. Also included in the charge sheet is former Comelec chief Benjamin Abalos Sr.

The Comelec also asked the court to issue a hold departure order (HDO) against Arroyo.

Sen. Francis Escudero earlier said Arroyo could go straight to jail if the court finds probable cause for poll sabotage. He said electoral sabotage is a non-bailable offense. -- report from Dexter Ganibe, dzMM