Arroyo's freedom a 'great blow' to justice system - Solon

The Supreme Court of the Philippines dismissed corruption charges Tuesday against a former president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and ordered her release from a Manila hospital where she has been detained since 2012.

Sereno, part of the block in the Supreme Court that lost the voting on the Arroyo plunder case, wrote in her dissenting opinion that the former President's approval of the release of the state charity agency's intelligence funds for seven times in the course of three years "reveals the initial, indispensable act of conspiracy to commit plunder".

The court decision is nearly certain to be welcomed by new President Rodrigo Duterte, who had said he would seek her release.

The 69-year-old Arroyo was whisked off a military veterans' hospital in suburban Quezon city and driven to her home in the upscale La Vista residential enclave in the Manila metropolis, her lawyer, Lawrence Arroyo, said.

She was detained again in 2012 on plunder case for allegedly misusing 366-million pesos (8 million USA dollars) lottery funds of the state-run Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office during her term.

In the statement, Arroyo thanked the High Court for finally stopping the persecution she had unjustly gone through for the last five years.

The lawyer said Arroyo's only daughter and a son were with her along with some of her friends and supporters.

Arroyo has denied any wrongdoing and called her detention a political persecution.

However, Mr. Mendoza said that Ms. Arroyo might consider filing a bill seeking to amend the law "which requires automatic and immediate suspension when a case is filed before the Sandiganbayan against public officers".

Arroyo was arrested in 2011 on electoral fraud charges but was allowed to post bail.

Government Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales defended the decision to charge Arroyo for plunder, and said on Wednesday she was preparing another corruption charge against her.

But the years that followed her exit from Malacanang in 2010 was marred by the barrage of cases, including graft and plunder, and by a debilitating spine illness that became apparent after two major surgeries. She rejected Duterte's offer of a pardon because it would have required her conviction, preferring instead to fight the allegation.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who was among those who sued Arroyo for plunder, said the criminal case against her was strong, adding she would back any effort to find a way to criminally prosecute Arroyo.

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  • Joey Payne