Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is not going anywhere for Christmas.
The Sandiganbayan denied the former president's request to spend the holidays with her family and relatives for three weeks in Pampanga.
Arroyo will have to spend Christmas and New Year under hospital arrest as Sandiganbayan's First Division saw no reason to allow her and three of her co-accused in a plunder case.
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"Ordinarily, upon arrest, all the accused should have been confined in a regular jail or detention center. They should be treated as ordinary detention prisoners," Sandiganbayan said in a nine-page resolution.
Arroyo had earlier asked the anti-graft court for an 18-day furlough from December 26 to January 6 after being informed that Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) will be undermanned on holiday.
The court also denied similar requests from her co-accused former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) President Sergio Valencia and board members Manuel Morato and Benigno Aguas.
All are charged of plunder for allegedly conspiring the diversion of P366-million worth of lottery funds to the intelligence fund.
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"The court is not persuaded... (To allow Arroyo to go to Pampanga) would negate the very reason why the court allowed her to stay at the VMMC," the resolution stated.
"For if she could already travel to Lubao, Pampanga and stay in her house there for three weeks, there is no more reason for her to be confined in a hospital," it pointed out.
The Sandiganbayan explained they cannot allow a prison break for Arroyo, saying it would manifest the anti-graft court's impartiality in implementing the law.
Instead, it suggested for Arroyo to arrange for her physical therapists to look after her at VMMC.
"The organs of the government may not show any undue favoritism or hostility to any person," the resolution added.
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At the same time, the division justices doubted Arroyo's claim that VMMC would allow all physical therapists to go on leave as this runs counter to the "very essence of medical institution."
The court added the decision also apply to the three former PCSO officials.
"Curtailment of freedom and confinement in a detention center, prison or jail is a necessary consequence of being charged with a non-bailable offense," they said.
"Until the petitions [for bail] are resolved, the (three PCSO officials) will have to bear the consequences of their detetntion," the resolution noted.
Morato is currently under hospital arrest at St. Luke's Medical Center in Quezon City while Aguas and Valencia are under the supervision of the Philippine National Police in its Custodial Center.
Vice President Jejomar Binay believes the next president of the Philippines must have vast experience and a long track record in governance and in dealing with crises. “I am very much convinced that the local government is the best training ground for those who want to run for national government positions,” he said. Binay said he is determined to run for president in 2016 on the strength of his competence and track record. …