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Gloria Arroyo should be allowed to go out on bail, House allies say

Activists protest in front of the Pasay City regional trial court in Manila on June 21, 2012, against former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s attempt to be granted bail by the high court. Arroyo was arrested in November 2011 after nearly 10 years in power and now awaiting trial on two separates charges of vote rigging and corruption. (MNS photo)

MANILA, June 20 (Mabuhay) – Allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the House of Representatives on Wednesday pressed for the provisional release of the ex-Philippine leader on bail, saying the poll fraud case against her is weak.

At a press briefing, House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said Mrs. Arroyo should be allowed to go out on bail since the testimony allegedly linking her to the supposed electoral cheating in 2007 is “uncorroborated” and is mere “hearsay.”

“We hope that the public will also note the weakness of the electoral sabotage case filed against [Representative] Arroyo, which is being used as a pretext to keep her behind bars,” Suarez told reporters.

Mrs. Arroyo now represents Pampanga’s second legislative district in the House of Representatives.

Another opposition member, Siquijor Rep. Orlando Fua, echoed Suarez’s call for Mrs. Arroyo’s temporary freedom.

“There is no evidence against her [Arroyo]. She should be provisionally released. Justice should not be compromised,” Fua said in the same briefing.

Mrs. Arroyo, who is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, is charged with a non-bailable offense of poll sabotage before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 112. She had pleaded not guilty to the electoral fraud case.

The former President may, however, be freed provisionally if the Commission on Elections, the complainant in the case, fails to establish her direct link to the electoral fraud.

Suarez also described former Maguindanao administrator Norie Unas – the government star witness against Mrs. Arroyo in her electoral sabotage case – as “damaged goods.”

“He [Unas] has been linked to the Maguindanao massacre, and thus, he has every incentive to testify whatever his government handlers want him to say,” he said.

Unas is also implicated in the 2009 massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao. He once served as the close adviser of one of the primary suspects in the massacre, Andal Ampatuan Sr.

Suarez further said that it is only “common practice” for officials running for a post to order a clean sweep during elections, which Unas accused Mrs. Arroyo of doing during the 2007 senatorial elections.

“That is a motherhood statement. Standard yun na sabihing we will wipe them out. That is only meant to boost the morale. Hindi naman sinabing dayain ninyo,” the opposition leader said.

He added that presiding Judge Jesus Mupas should exercise compassion towards Mrs. Arroyo, since she is a woman suffering from bone disease.

“May sakit naman siya. Hindi pa naman [siya] proven guilty. Tapos babae pa. Sana naman i-grant na ‘yung bail dahil wala naman talagang kaso,” he said.

Earlier this month, former Elections chief Benjamin Abalos, who is also charged with electoral sabotage by the Comelec, was allowed to post bail after the complainant failed to present a witness directly linking him to the alleged poll fraud.

But Abalos also has another case pending before another Pasay court, which is still hearing his petition for bail. Abalos remains detained at the Southern Police District headquarters in Taguig City. (MNS)

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