Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Monday refused to enter any plea to the plunder case she is facing for allegedly misusing intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) during her incumbency.
This prompted the Sandiganbayan to enter a "not guilty" plea on her behalf.
Despite her health condition, Mrs. Arroyo was brought under tight security to the Sandiganbayan building
from the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City, where she is currently being held under hospital arrest.
The former President’s arraignment was originally scheduled two weeks ago, but had to be postponed after she showed symptoms of ischemia, a heart disease. She is also suffering from bone mineral disorder.
Mrs. Arroyo, who now represents Pampanga's second district in the House of Representatives, was brought to the hospital last October 4, the same day the Sandiganbayan ordered her arrest for the plunder case.
The case stems from charges filed by the Office of the Ombudsman last July accusing the former President of performing “various acts" to "surreptitiously divert” public funds amounting to P366 million sourced from PCSO’s operating budget “for personal gain."
Last week, Mrs. Arroyo’s camp asked the Supreme Court to stop the Sandiganbayan from hearing her PCSO plunder case. The high court has yet to act upon the former President’s request.
Mrs. Arroyo’s camp argued that the anti-graft court “acted with precipitate haste” when it issued two resolutions without giving her the opportunity to file motions for judicial determination of probable cause.
Aside from her plunder case, Mrs. Arroyo is also facing electoral sabotage charges filed against her by the Commission on Elections. Last July, she was allowed to post bail by a Pasay court despite being charged with a non-bailable offense.
Last April, the former President pleaded not guilty to separate graft cases filed against her before the Sandiganbayan for the botched NBN-ZTE deal during her presidency.
Despite these cases and her medical condition, Mrs. Arroyo filed her reelection bid earlier this month.
– Andreo C. Calonzo/KG/RSJ, GMA News