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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is under arrest!

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has been put under arrest after a Pasay City regional trial court on Fridays afternoon issued arrest warrants against her and two others hours after the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) filed an electoral sabotage case against them.

According to a report, arrest warrants were also issued against former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol.

The case is being handled by Judge Hesus Mupas of the regional trial court's Branch 112.

The Arroyo camp on Friday said the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over Mrs. Arroyo's case and thus, the anti-graft court should have been the one to issue her arrest order.

However, Republic Act 9369, which amended Article 286 of the Omnibus Election Code, vests exclusive original jurisdiction over cases of electoral sabotage on Regional Trial Courts. Moreover, RA 8249, which prescribes the Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction, does not vest in the anti-graft court jurisdiction over election offenses.

Ampatuan Sr. was arrested shortly after the Maguindanao Massacre in 2009 and has been detained since. The present arrest warrant issued against him is for a different crime - electoral sabotage.

As of Friday night, authorities have served the arrest warrants on Ampatuan who is detained in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig, and on Bedol who is detained in the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, as well as that of the former President who is confined at the St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig City.

A copy of the court order from Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 112 on the issuance of
arrest warrants for former President Gloria Arroyo, Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., and Atty. Lintang
Bedol for the non-bailable offense of electoral sabotage.
Electoral sabotage, when evidence of guilt is strong, is a non-bailable offense.

The camp of Mrs. Arroyo compared the issuance of the arrest warrant against the former Philippine leader to a "bullet train," because it was rushed and was quite fast.

Mrs. Arroyo's legal spokesman, Raul Lambino, said the issuance of the warrant was so soon and smacked of undue haste.

Mrs. Arroyo was still at St. Luke's Hospital and wasn't taken by police because her camp claimed she was unwell and still in bed. Nevertheless, she was guarded 24 hours by the police.

At a press briefing in MalacaƱang, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said they would not object if Mrs. Arroyo's camp asked for a hospital arrest.

De Lima said she asked President Benigno Aquino III's guidance on the matter and the latter told her to treat the former president with utmost respect in consideration of whatever condition she has.

Aquino is now in Bali, Indonesia attending the 19th ASEAN Summit.

"Hindi kami mago-object sa hospital arrest pero wala sa amin yan, ang desisyon does not lie with us, the complainant, nasa korte yan. Kailangan humingi sila, I think they should get court approval, [We are not going to object, the decision does not lie with us, the complainant, but is for the court. I think they should get court approval]" De Lima told reporters.

She added that as long as Mrs. Arroyo stays in the hospital or at her home, they would not arrest her.

Mrs. Arroyo remains confined at the St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig City.

Meanwhile, Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez acknowledged that Mrs. Arroyo can already be prevented from leaving the country in light of an electoral case filed with at the Pasay court.

"The TRO still stands but if you're going to ask if she can still leave, then she is barred because of the warrant of arrest issued by the Pasay court," Marquez said at a press conference in Manila.

Although Mrs. Arroyo is now a congresswoman representing the second district of Pampanga, she can still be arrested even when Congress is in session because under the 1987 Constitution, congressmen can be arrested for crimes punishable by imprisonment of more than six years such as electoral sabotage which is punishable by life imprisonment.


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