Romualdez questions court ruling denying GMA’s petition for bail

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Published : Thursday, May 29, 2014 00:00

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A LAWYER-LAWMAKER who heads one of the blocs in the House of Representatives questioned yesterday the seeming political decision of Sandiganbayan Special First Division denying last Monday for the fourth time the petition for bail of detained former President-turned Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, head of the House independent minority bloc, said there is no basis to junk Mrs. Arroyo’s request to post bail after her five out of nine other co-accused whom all of them were accused of “conspiracy” have been allowed temporary liberty.

“If it is conspiracy as what they are claiming, those (accused) from the PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office) should have not been granted bail. What is good for the goose is good for the gander,” Romualdez pointed out.

“It’s not consistent and not accordance to legal precedence so there must be another reason. It must be political and it smacks of that. I think most of the legal experts will agree with our point that conspiracy is an act of all and how she can be the detained if the others are out already?” Romualdez asked.

Mrs. Arroyo and eight others were accused of conspiracy in defrauding the government of P365,997,915 through unlawful transfer of confidential/intelligence PCSO funds from January 2008 to June 2010.

Earlier, the Sandiganbayan First Division granted the separate bail petitions of her co-accused former Commission on Audit (COA) chairman Reynaldo Villar, former PCSO officials Manoling Morato, Raymundo Roquero, Jose Taruc V, and Rosario Uriarte for lack of strong evidence.

Other plunder co-accused are ex-PCSO officials Benigno Aguas, Sergio Valencia, and Fatima Valdes and former COA-Intelligence Fund Unit head Nilda B. Plaras.

Romualdez aired suspicion that some justices could have been taking indirect signal or body language from President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in deciding on the bail petition of Mrs. Arroyo especially if they are eyeing promotion.

“Let us say the President of the Philippines who is PNoy right now, he wants to make sure that she (Mrs. Arroyo) would not leave the jail, that will be transmitted or relayed somehow down the line or that will be picked up so what happens anybody from Sandiganbayan who has any ambition of getting promoted will think, ganoon pala ang ihip ng hangin sa taas, hindi puwedeng pakawalan ito, huwag muna,” Romualdez lamented.

“That is a political reality. Kapag pinakawalan mo papagalitan ka. You will never be promoted, wasak ka na, we know how it works naman,” he added.

On Monday, the anti-graft court said “no bail can be allowed” for Mrs. Arroyo, adding the earlier ruling “should not be reconsidered” because it has found the “existence of strong evidence” against her.

The Sandiganbayan explained Mrs. Arroyo’s camp cannot use the Montano and the Hernandez cases because there was no strong evidence in the first one and the second case was downgraded.

Mrs. Arroyo’s original petition for bail was denied on November 6, 2013 followed by the junking of her appeal last February 20, 2014 and another motion for a different ground with similar objective was also denied last April 22, 2014 and the motion for reconsideration was junked yesterday.

Plunder, a capital offense, is punishable by life imprisonment hence non-bailable.

It likewise entails forfeiture of defendants’ assets if they are found guilty of the crime.


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