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Arroyo house arrest pressed

  • Written by Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 2311

THE House independent bloc appealed yesterday to the House leadership to expedite the adoption of a resolution seeking house arrest for detained former President-turned Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
   
Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the House independent bloc, said there is now an ongoing clamor to detain Mrs. Arroyo at her residence in No. 14 Badjao St., La Vista Subdivision in Quezon City due to her fragile health.
   
“The former president has been suffering from a debilitating medical condition.  She should be allowed house arrest out of compassion, and for humanitarian reasons,” Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), stressed.
   
Meanwhile, 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III, author of House Resolution (HR) No. 1908 calling for Arroyo’s house arrest, said the adoption of the proposed separate resolution seeking house arrest for plunder accused Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile on humanitarian reasons will put pressure on the House leadership to do the same thing with his proposal.
   
If the leadership would adopt the call for house arrest for Enrile but ignore a resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives in Arroyo’s case, Bello said the lower chamber would be accused of being a Palace rubberstamp.
   
“If the House leadership does not desire to be called a rubberstamp, it should adopt the same position,” said Bello when asked if the House leadership should give more consideration to his proposal for Arroyo’s house arrest if the House considers a similar call for Enrile.
   
Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. said Bello is entitled to his own opinion, denying that the House of Representatives is Malacañang’s rubberstamp.
   
“He (Bello) is entitled to his opinion like everyone else,” Belmonte said.
   
Nevertheless, he backed the call to place Mrs. Arroyo under house arrest, saying his leadership will consider the proposal of Bello.
   
“We will consider. But remember the Sandiganbayan solely has say on the matter,” said Belmonte.
   
Bello said his resolution seeking to grant house arrest for Arroyo, facing plunder and currently detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC), was referred to the House Committee on Justice for deliberation.
   
Bello was the former presidential adviser for peace process of Arroyo during talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF).
 
He wants Arroyo to stay in her residence, citing the “deteriorating” and “fragile” medical condition of the lawmaker.
   
“Former President Arroyo only remains charged with certain offenses for which her culpability has not been determined nor has she been convicted of those charges. While, her petition for bail remains to be heard or granted, her medical condition continues to deteriorate even while she remains innocent until proven otherwise,” Bello said in his three-page resolution.
   
Arroyo is facing plunder charges in connection with her involvement in the misuse of the intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) amounting to P366 million.