MANILA (UPDATED) - The Sandiganbayan First Division has allowed the family of detained former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to spend December 24, 25, 31, 2013 and January 1, 2014 with her.
The actual court order reads, “acting on accused Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s urgent motion, dated December 13, 2013, for humanitarian considerations, and there being no objection/opposition from the prosecution, the court hereby grants the said motion and as prayed for, accused Arroyo’s immediate family members…are hereby allowed to be and stay with the accused the whole day of December 24, the whole day of December 25, the whole day of December 31 and the whole day of January 1 at her detention quarters at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center.”
Mike Arroyo welcomed the development in a statement.
“Praise God, the court is more humane and understands Philippine customs and traditions.”
Normally, visiting hours end at 9:30 p.m. every day except Monday when absolutely no visits are allowed.
With the court’s order, the Arroyos will be allowed to stay past 9:30 p.m. for December 24 and 31.
Arroyo’s chief of staff, Raul Lambino, thanked the Sandiganbayan for allowing members of the Arroyo family to stay at the VMMC. He said the development will be good for Mrs. Arroyo, whose life is now in danger following complications from her cervical spine surgery.
He said Arroyo’s weight has dropped further.
Just recently, 1BAP Rep. Silvestre Bello estimated Arroyo’s weight dropped to 70 to 80 pounds when he saw her by chance as he played golf at the VMMC golf course.
Lambino said, “Doctors na ang nagsasabi lalong lumubha ang kanyang karamdaman. They have already testified. Pinatawag na ang doctors, sila ang nag-conduct ng examination, testimony. Members of the court asked doctors, ‘Ano kalagayan?’ Sinabi ng doctors, ‘namemeligro ang kalagayan.’”
Last month, the Philippine National Police reportedly implemented stricter rules on visits, which included preventing Mike Arroyo from staying overnight with his wife.
Arroyo family not staying overnight?
Lambino, however, said there are no plans for the family to stay overnight for the holidays.
“Hindi mananatili overnight. Ang pagkakaalam ko, masaya [na sya] kung makakasama mas mahaba [beyond 9:30 p.m.]”
In the past, the PNP had allowed the family to spend Christmas and New Year’s eve with her even without any Sandiganbayan order.
Lambino said the prosecution did not raise any objections.
He said they have no plans to ask for a furlough since a previous request was allowed but with very strict guidelines. He said this prompted the camp to just forego the furlough.
Aside from limiting her visiting hours and banning overnight stays, Arroyo’s time to get some sun was also cut to just an hour in the morning.
“Maliwanag ang rekomendasyon ng doctor base sa medical certificate kahapon na hinihingi nila: Bigyan ng mas mahabang oras ang immediate members ng family as part of wholistic approach para sa possible recovery. Bago ang medical certificate na in-issue kahapon. We will possibly submit kung hihingi ng panibagong motion.”
Lambino said Arroyo still has a pending motion for bail for the plunder charge which stems from the alleged misuse of intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
He noted that during the time of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, Arroyo was treated with courtesy.
“Nung unang ma-detain on electoral sabotage…di siya hinihigpitan. Nagpapasalamat kami kay former Secretary Robredo sa kaniyang pagbibigay na magandang pagtrato. Nagpatuloy ito hanggang nakaraang buwan…sinasabihan kami ng kapulisan na di na pwede.”
Arroyo’s medical condition worsened following a botched surgery on her cervical spine to address a pinched nerve.