Why Arroyo declined Duterte's pardon offer

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 24 2016 03:54 PM | Updated as of May 24 2016 07:06 PM

Why Arroyo declined Duterte's pardon offer 1
Former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and incoming President Rodrigo Duterte. Composite Image

MANILA - A spokesperson of former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo believes incoming President Rodrigo Duterte's offer of pardon is a message to all that the days of her "persecution" are over.

Arroyo has declined the offer of pardon because it would mean admitting a crime she did not commit, one of her lawyers told ABS-CBN News.

Arroyo is detained on a case for plunder in connection with the alleged misuse of P365 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) intelligence funds.

According to Lorenzo Gadon, a common friend of Duterte and Arroyo paid a visit at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) and told the former president of the Davao City mayor's thoughts about extending a pardon to her.

Duterte is a known personal friend of Arroyo, who even made him her anti-crime adviser.

"The former president was elated, as she knew that Digong was expressing his sympathy," Gadon said. "But GMA said more than the pardon, what she really wants is to be exonerated, that the case should be dismissed, because she did not commit any crime and that she is innocent. There is no iota of evidence that she committed plunder."

READ: Duterte ready to pardon Arroyo

Almost all of Arroyo's co-accused in the plunder case have been allowed to post bail. The Arroyo camp has elevated the matter to the Supreme Court (SC) since conspiracy is an essential element of plunder. Plunder is a non-bailable case but courts are allowed to authorize bail if the evidence of guilt is not strong.

"The PCSO case, because it is still pending decision, pardon is not yet timely. Nonetheless, Digong, who is aware of the political persecution of GMA, must have thought about issuing a pardon. It is probably his way of telling everybody that unjust persecution of GMA will not be tolerated," Gadon said.

"As a former prosecutor, Digong is aware that the GMA PCSO case has no merit for lack of evidence," he added.

Arroyo is on her third and final term as congresswoman in the incoming 17th Congress. Arroyo ran for congressional representative after she stepped down from the presidency in 2010.

Gadon, meanwhile, reiterated their hopes for the high court to dismiss the case against her.

"PGMA is very happy and elated with the pronouncements of Mayor Duterte that he will issue pardon for GMA. GMA is really hoping that SC will dismiss the PCSO case for lack of evidence," he said.