DAVAO CITY (UPDATED) - Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said he is ready to grant pardon to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In a press conference in Davao City, Duterte told journalists that Arroyo should be released.
"Look, alam mo kasi, ganito yan eh. I'm ready to grant pardon to Arroyo," Duterte said.
The former President, who has been reelected Pampanga second district representative, has been on trial since 2012 for a plunder case over the alleged misuse of P365 million in confidential Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.
Duterte noted that the other respondents in the plunder case have been released and only Arroyo remains in detention.
"Let me explain. Si Arroyo to my mind should also be released kasi 'yung lahat na-demanda in connection with the sweepstakes expenditure ng intelligence fund nasa labas na. Si Arroyo lang ang hanggang nandiyan," the incoming president said.
He said he feels pity for Arroyo.
Duterte revealed that he has talked to the former President and offered to grant her pardon.
"Ayaw n'ya. I offered, 'When I become president, I will pardon you.' I talked to her, sabi ko, 'Ma’am, gusto mo i-pardon kita? Not because we’re friends, but because I do not think that there is a good case against you as a prosecutor, as a lawyer,'" revealed Duterte.
Arroyo, however, reportedly refused the offer because she has to admit to the crime before she becomes eligible for pardon.
"She’s been detained for so long, the trial delayed. Under the constitution, talagang ground for dismissal yan, with prejudice." he added.
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In March this year, the Supreme Court ordered an extension of the suspension of her trial for allegedly plundering PCSO funds.
It was the second extension of the suspension which was first ordered in November 2015.
The plunder case is the only one keeping Arroyo in hospital arrest. She is detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center because of complications after a cervical spine surgery in 2011.
Arroyo stepped down in 2010. She won in the 2004 election amid allegations of fraud. Before that, Arroyo ascended to the presidency as vice-president to Joseph Estrada, who resigned in 2001 amid corruption allegations and the abrupt end of his Senate impeachment trial.
Arroyo stayed in office for about 9 years. Since then, she has busied herself as congresswoman of Pampanga, shying away from national politics as she battled her cases.
Several of Arroyo's allies are set to join the Duterte Cabinet.
- with a report from Roxanne Arevalo, ABS-CBN News