MANILA – Still facing trial for plunder, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo requested to be put to house arrest as her health only worsened in her current hospital arrest. Arroyo’s lawyers claimed that a different environment could help her recover.
The Sandiganbayan, however, maintained that Arroyo be put to hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) until the defense panel presents enough evidences, such as photos of the houses the former president will reside on.
Arroyo’s almost 2,000-square meter residential property in La Vista, Quezon City and 500-square meter property in Lubao, Pampanga were the houses being considered for her house arrest.
“The court may conduct an ocular inspection on these properties,” First Division chairman Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz said.
Aside from the photos, the court also wanted to ensure that the homeowners in the two houses’ neighborhoods would approve of Arroyo’s presence within their vicinity.
“If the neighborhood opposes, we can’t do anything about it. The security of Arroyo will be compromised if many people are staying around the property,” Dela Cruz said.
Wanting to secure Arroyo’s security in the house arrest, the court asked if the proposed houses were isolated.
Arroyo’s camp, however, admitted that her La Vista home was beside other houses in the subdivision. They then suggested the Lubao property, which they said was only 200 meters away from a police station.
To this, the prosecution pointed out that the police force in Pampanga is undermanned and has other duties to do.
Aside from the photos and the location, the court also wanted to check the claims of the defense panel. They then asked for Arroyo’s latest medical bulletin on her condition from government doctors as only earlier medical bulletins were submitted in her motion.
Arroyo has been scheduled for a medical check-up to obtain the latest medical bulletin. She was given 15 days to submit stronger evidences before the court submits the motion for resolution.
Former president Joseph Estrada was granted house arrest in his rest house in Rizal as he faced a plunder case. The restrictions during Estrada’s detainment may be applied to Arroyo should she also be allowed to a house arrest.
Also, Arroyo’s houses may be surrendered to the government before she may be allowed a house arrest.