MANILA (UPDATE) – Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo can finally leave detention after the Supreme Court (SC) voted 11-4 favoring her petition seeking the junking of her plunder case, her lawyer said Tuesday.
The plunder case against Arroyo and several others involves the release of over P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) intelligence funds from 2008 up to 2010.
Arroyo's lawyer Raul Lambino claims he got information past noon Tuesday that the SC justices voted 11-4 favoring Arroyo's demurrer to evidence, a plea raised when a defendant believes the evidence against him or her is weak.
''Kasama ko nga po si Pang. Arroyo rito at lubos po yung ating kagalakan ngayon dito sa naging botohan o info na dumating sa amin. Naiyak po siya siyempre. Lahat ng mga kasama namin rito sa magandang balitang dumating sa atin,'' Lambino told dzMM.
"Para sa akin, malaya na ang dating Pangulo," he added.
Lambino said the Philippine National Police would process Arroyo's release after the SC promulgates its decision.
He also said Mrs. Arroyo is obligated to attend President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address next Monday.
Except for Arroyo, all the other accused in the plunder case have been granted bail. Arroyo is currently under detention at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center.
''Iyung mga ganyang klaseng desisyon ng Korte, final and executory kaagad po yan eh. Hindi naman pwede magkaroon ng MR at appeal. Immediately, promulgate na po iyan. Hintayin lang natin yung formal written desision para may basehang dokumento ang PNP at maiproseso yung kaukulang release papers bago mabigyan ng tuluyang kalayaan ang dating pangulo,'' Lambino said.
Arroyo was allowed to post bail in 2012 for an electoral sabotage case involving the alleged rigging of the 2007 senatorial polls. However, she remained in detention as she faced the PCSO plunder case.
ARROYO RUNS TO SC
In her petition with the SC, Arroyo sought a reversal of two Sandiganbayan resolutions, dated April 6, 2015 and September 10, 2015, that junked her demurrer.
Arroyo no longer presented her defense before the Sandiganbayan after the Office of the Ombudsman completed the presentation of its case against her, and instead filed her petition with the SC.
"[N]ot a single exhibit of the 637 exhibits offered by the prosecution nor a single testimony of the 21 witnesses of the prosecution was offered by the prosecution to prove that [Arroyo] amassed, accumulated, or acquired even a single peso of the alleged ill-gotten wealth amounting to P365,997,915.00 or any part of that amount alleged in the Information," Arroyo argued.
'GREAT POSITIVE CHANGE'
In a statement, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, the legal counsel of Arroyo's husband Miguel Arroyo, lauded the high court's ruling.
He also lambasted the Aquino administration for supposedly persecuting the former leader and hailed the Duterte administration for bringing ''new hope for great positive change."
"The Supreme Court has once again proven itself to be the final bastion of justice and the rule of law. Its ruling today has validated what we have been saying for six years now: that the charges against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are nothing more than disingenuous attempts at political persecution by a corrupt and inept Aquino Administration intent on covering up its gross lack of accomplishments by harassing its political opponents,'' Topacio said.
"The dawn of a new administration has brought about new hope for great positive change, which includes freedom from false and malicious accusations and unceasing lies and disinformation. We all join the new government in its fight against criminality, corruption and its economic and political reforms that will surely usher in a new golden age for our country and people."