Law dean takes up cudgels for Gloria

A LEGAL eagle,  Antonio Abad Jr. former dean of Far Eastern University’s Institute of Law and Adamson University’s College of Law,   on Thursday   challenged the  supposed commission of conspiracy  involving  former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in connection with the alleged misuse of P366-million confidential and intelligence fund of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

At a forum in Quezon City, Abad questioned the continued detention of Arroyo at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and the recent denial of her demurrer to evidence by the Sandiganbayan.

“If plunder is a conspiracy, then the act of one is the act of all,” he told reporters.

“If the demurrers of the other accused in the plunder suit were granted, why did the court deny Arroyo’s?”

The anti-graft court earlier granted the respective motions for demurrer filed by the former PCSO board members—co-accused Manuel “Manoling” Morato, Raymundo Roquero and Jose “Popoy” Taruc V in the plunder suit—and even allowed them to post bail for their provisional liberty. “Her demurrer should have been granted because the other co-accused’s demurrers were also granted,” Abad said.  

Arroyo, in her demurrer to evidence, prayed for the dismissal of the plunder case she is facing over the prosecution’s lack of evidence that would prove she amassed ill-gotten wealth through the PCSO’s funds.

Lorenzo Gadon, Arroyo’s lawyer, said they would take up the matter with her other counsels for further action.

“Even Aleta Tolentino of the Commission on Audit as witness of the prosecution told the Sandiganbayan that there was no evidence against Mrs. Arroyo,” he told The Standard.

“It could not be established that the P366 million went to her. It went to PCSO and was disbursed by the agency itself.”

Abad said the camp of Arroyo could file another bail petition with the Supreme Court citing its previous decision granting bail for Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who is also charged with plunder before the anti-graft court over his alleged involvement in the pork barrel fund scam engineered by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

“Enrile and Mrs. Arroyo are similarly situated. He is 91, while she is 68. Both have frail health condition, and are not flight risk,” Gadon said.

“Mrs. Arroyo is now suffering persistent severe pain in her right arm almost the whole day. She has already been checked up, but I am not in authority to talk about any medical bulletin about it.”

He maintained Arroyo must be granted house arrest either in Lubao, Pampanga or at La Vista, Quezon City because of her deteriorating health, “a life-threatening one because her illness is not like heart attack, but her pain in the neck causes other pain in the (entire) body since it is nerver-related illness.”

“She lost too much weight because she is experiencing difficulty in swallowing solid food,” he said.

Despite her detention since 2012, Gadon said Arroyo has not failed to file her own bills in Congress and review proposed measures of other lawmakers.

Local officials and even her residents have continued to visit Arroyo at the VMMC, trying to convince her to seek a third bid in the congressional race in 2016, Gadon said.

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