MANILA, Philippines – Illness and hospital detention won’t keep former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from attending the wedding anniversary of a “close friend” and “spiritual adviser.” That is, she has her way with the court. And she doesn’t mind shelling out some extra cash for it.
Arroyo’s lawyer Modesto Ticman Jr. filed a motion on Monday, July 7, in which Arroyo requested the Sandiganbayan grant her permission to attend the 50th wedding anniversary of El Shaddai Founder Bro. Mariano “Mike” Velarde and his wife Belen.
“She is ready and willing to pay for the actual additional expenses of her police and security escorts for her said furlough, such as gasoline, food, communication, and other expenses,” the motion read.
Arroyo’s motion further indicated that Velarde is “not only a close friend but one of her spiritual advisers as well.”
Velarde and his wife have invited Arroyo to be one of several principal sponsors of their renewal of vows. Other sponsors include former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr, and Former First Lady and now Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Romualdez-Marcos.
As head of the religious organization El Shaddai, Velarde has a strong influence nationwide, having a mass following in the millions. As such, political candidates generally seek his nod of approval, in order to ensure the votes of his followers.
The beleaguered former president’s lawyer has requested that the hearing on her motion be set on Friday, July 10, at 8:30 am.
Arroyo is detained on charges of plunder, a non-bailable offense, in a case involving the alleged misappropriation of P366 million worth of charity funds.