MANILA – Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles yesterday called on the Sandiganbayan to release detained former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Arguelles issued a statement entitled “A Call for Justice, Mercy and Compassion,” in which he said that the anti-graft court should set 67-year-old Arroyo free and ”let justice prevail over the plunder case filed against her” based on the evidence brought forth.
“We appeal to them (Sandiganbayan justices) to weigh the issues wisely and impartially, with no regard for partisan pressure of any kind, especially if that pressure carries the full might of the state against a solitary individual,” Arguelles said.
The former Philippine president is currently being held at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City on charges of plunder involving the misuse of at funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
She was charged with nine other officials of the PCSO: Sergio Valencia, Rosario Uriarte, Manuel Morato, Raymundo Roquero, Fatima Valdes, Jose Taruc, Benigno Aguas, former Commission on Audit (COA) chairman Reynaldo Villar, and COA official Nilda Plaras.
The archbishop noted that Arroyo’s co-accused were granted bail by the Sandiganbayan, on account of a lack of strong evidence, but Arroyo was kept in detention despite the fact that no evidence was shown to prove that Arroyo pocketed any money from the PCSO.
Arguelles said that he is of the opinion that Arroyo’s ongoing detention, even in the absence of any real evidence, could be due to the Aquino administration’s “obsessive anger” at her.
Arroyo, who suffers from a degenerative bone disease, is said to be in poor health.