Supreme Court stops Arroyo’s plunder trial for 30 days

The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday issued a status quo ante order stopping for 30 days the plunder trial against former President and now Pampanga (2nd District) Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by the Sandiganbayan. The case involves the alleged anomalous utilization of the confidential intelligence fund of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) amounting to PHP365 million during Arroyo’s term as president.

Likewise, the SC also ordered the Sandiganbayan First Division to submit its comment on Arroyo’s petition.

In her 124-page petition for certiorari filed through her legal counsel Estelito Mendoza, Arroyo asked the High Court to set an oral argument and suspend the plunder trial.

She also asked the SC to set aside and nullify the resolution of the Sandiganbayan dated April 6, 2015 and Sept. 10, 2015 which dismissed the “demurrer to evidence” which she filed.

Except for Arroyo, the Sandiganbayan has allowed her co-accused in the case, namely former PCSO General Manager and Vice Chairman Rosario Uriarte, former Board of Directors Manuel Morato, Jose Taruc, Raymundo Roquero and Ma. Fatima Valdes, as well as former Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Reynaldo Villar, to post bail for their temporary release.

Because of this, Arroyo argued that the denial by the Sandiganbayan of her “demurrer to evidence” is contrary to the principle of “equal justice” since there was no enough evidence to pin her down in the case.

Arroyo further argued that if the 637 documentary exhibits of the prosecution and testimonies presented by their 21 witnesses will be made as basis, they have failed to prove that she has “pocketed” even a single centavo or a peso from the PCSO fund, which was allegedly anomalously utilized.