SC orders immediate release of ex-President Arroyo

MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ordered the immediate release from detention of former President and now Pampanga (2nd District) Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Mrs. Arroyo is currently under house arrest the Veterans Memorial Center (VMMC) in Quezon City due to her debilitating bone disease.

“WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petitions for certiorari; ANNULS and SETS ASIDE the resolutions issued in Criminal Case No. SB-12-CRM-0174 by the Sandiganbayan on April 6, 2015 and September 10, 2015; GRANTS the petitioners demurrers to evidence; DISMISSES Criminal Case No. SB-12-CRM-0174 as to the petitioners GLORA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO and BENIGNO AGUAS for insufficiency of evidence; ORDERS the immediate release from detention of said petitioners; and MAKES no pronouncements on costs of suit,” SC Public Information Office (PIO) Chief and Spokesman Atty. Theodore O. Te said in a press conference on Tuesday.

The case involves the alleged misuse of the PHP366-million confidential intelligence fund of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) during Arroyo’s presidency.

Te said that the Court voted 11-4 in G.R. No. 220598 (Macapagal-Arroyo) and 10-5 in G.R. No. 220953 (Aguas).

Those who voted to dismiss the case against Mrs. Arroyo were Associate Justices Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr.,Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo D. Brion, Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, Mariano C. Del Castillo, Jose P. Perez, Jose C. Mendoza, Bienvenido L. Reyes, Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe and Francis H. Jardeleza.

Those who dissented were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. Aranal Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio and Associate Justices Marvic F. Leonen and Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa.

Chief Justice Sereno and Associate Justice Leonen submitted separate dissenting opinions.

Associate Justice Brion submitted a separate concurring opinion while Associate Justice Bernabe submitted a separate concurring and dissenting opinion. Perfecto Raymundo/PNA/