The Commission on Elections (Comelec) dropped its motion yesterday to transfer former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) to a regular jail after doctors testified that the patient still needs close supervision for her therapy.“We will not insist on the transfer, provided a regular medical report is submitted to the court,” Comelec lead prosecutor Esmeralda Ladra said.
The Comelec lawyer made the manifestation after defense lawyer Benjamin Santos asked for clarification of a press statement made by Comelec that they are no longer pursuing the transfer of the former president.
“We want to know if the Comelec is withdrawing its motion,” Santos said.
Ladra clarified that they are leaving it up to the court to decide on the motion but as far as they are concerned they are no longer interested in pursuing the issue.
Pasay Regional Trial Court Branch 112 Judge Jesus Mupas ordered the prosecution and the defense to submit their respective memorandum on the issue.
Santos reiterated their earlier motion for the house arrest of Arroyo, adding that the request cannot be considered special treatment because of her unique status as a former head of state.
In his supplemental motion, Santos cited the case of former President Joseph Estrada, who was placed under house arrest while the trial of his plunder case was ongoing at the Sandiganbayan.
Santos added that under the law, former presidents are entitled to security in his or her lifetime.
“Former president (Arroyo) thus belongs to a unique class, and the accused is among the select few,” he said.
Arroyo, along with former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former election officer Lintang Bedol, is facing electoral sabotage charges in relation to the May 2007 midterm election.
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 supporters of Arroyo converged yesterday in front of the Pasay City Hall of Justice, where the hearing on the electoral sabotage charge was being held.
Pasay City deputy police chief Superintendent Samuel Turla told The STAR that the group arrived at about 8 a.m. waving pictures of Arroyo and posters seeking house arrest for the former president.
Turla said there was no visible leader of the group and after they held Mass, he requested them to leave the premises since they were already causing traffic.
“I told them if they will not voluntarily leave, we will disperse them with water,” he said.
The police official added the group did not have a permit to hold a rally so they could be charged with illegal assembly.
The group peacefully dispersed after the hearing ended.