Groups question Arroyo’s release, call for her prosecution
“The case is very weak and was only filed to make it appear that PNoy is running after GMA but actually it is accommodating the hated (former) president. Truth to tell, PNoy is not serious in making GMA and her cohorts accountable for their crimes against the Filipino people.” — Atty. Carlos Zarate, Bayan Muna Vice-President for Mindanao.
By MARILOU AGUIRRE-TUBURAN
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — “The grant of bail is already expected.”
This is the immediate reaction of lawyer Carlos Zarate, Bayan Muna’s Vice President for Mindanao, following the Pasay Regional Trial Court’s decision of granting former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s petition to post bail on her electoral sabotage case, Wednesday.
Arroyo has temporarily gained freedom after posting a million-peso (USD 23,726) bail. Court Sheriff Rodelio Buenviaje immediately informed Arroyo about the decision in her detention facility at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City. Arroyo was released after serving over seven months on hospital arrest.
“The case is very weak and was only filed to make it appear that PNoy is running after GMA. But actually it is accommodating the hated (former) president. Truth to tell, PNoy is not serious in making GMA and her cohorts accountable for their crimes against the Filipino people,” Zarate told davaotoday.com.
In November last year, the Commission on Elections filed an electoral sabotage case against Arroyo in connection with the 2007 senatorial elections.. But Zarate said, there were “even more serious cases of plunder, graft and corruption, and grave violations of human rights” that were filed against Arroyo and her allies by different individuals and peoples organizations.
Bayan Muna, for example, has filed plunder and graft cases against Arroyo and her allies on the failed National Broadband Network-ZTE deal and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office fund malversation.
“It’s a big insult against Aquino,” Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Luz Ilagan said, adding, “What happens to his boast that he will make Arroyo accountable for her crimes?”
The choice of case against Arroyo, she said, “shows weakness” on the part of the Aquino administration. The delay in the preparation, timing and filing of other cases against Arroyo, Ilagan added, appears deliberate.
Ilagan said the Aquino administration has been dilly-dallying in filing the more serious cases which could have pinned Arroyo down. Instead, she added, Aquino filed cases that Arroyo could easily get away with.
“The case is supposedly non-bailable. But it seems the Aquino government is giving her an easy way out,” Sheena Duazo of the umbrella organization Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said.
Bayan-National condemned the granting of bail to Arroyo whom they called the “criminal mastermind” in the 2004 and 2007 electoral fraud. In a statement, it said, Arroyo’s release may have been the “result of the rushed case filed in November last year to prevent her from leaving the country,” this, after the Supreme Court upheld the Temporary Restraining Order against the Department of Justice’s imposed travel ban.
Anakbayan youth leader Cherry Orendain said Arroyo’s release “is an obvious manifestation of Arroyo-Aquino political conspiracy.”
Orendain scored Aquino for boasting the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona on corruption case, yet, “he cannot prosecute GMA” whom she said, has committed thousands of rights abuses, plunder and election fraud. “He just confirmed further that Corona was just for pogi points. It was not to hold Arroyo accountable for her crimes,” she said.
Arroyo’s legal counsel lawyer Raul Lambino, in a television interview, said they are waiting for the prosecution to present their evidence before the defense prepares their own witnesses and evidence. “Kung wala na silang ipi-presenta, hihilingin agad namin ang pagbasura ng kaso,” he said.
In a test message, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte said she trusts that the “Court knows what it’s doing.”
But Zarate said that if Aquino is serious in holding the former president and her allies, he “should vigorously pursue these serious non-bailable cases instead,” adding that, “If Aquino can forgive and forget Arroyo’s crimes, the people will not.”
“What we want is accountability, not, impunity. Gloria must be put back to jail where she and her ilk truly belong,” Bayan Muna’s Zarate said. (Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/davaotoday.com