[PHOTO -HOUSE ARREST?: The TV Patrol, on its poll question earlier today asked the public if they are agree on the house arrest for Gloria Arroyo, the outcome said that 87% of those who voted said that they are not agree on the house arrest motion while the other 13% said that they agree for the house arrest.

MANILA, OCTOBER 29, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Michael Punongbayan - Unless the Supreme Court (SC) issues a temporary restraining order (TRO), former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be arraigned on Monday, according to Sandiganbayan spokesman Renato Bocar.

As of yesterday, the anti-graft court’s First Division had issued no order canceling the arraignment, Bocar said.

This means that the scheduled arraignment on Monday “will proceed unless restrained by the Supreme Court,” he said.

Arroyo filed a petition for certiorari before the SC on Wednesday questioning her indictment before the Sandiganbayan.

Arroyo, through her lawyer Anacleto Diaz, is seeking a TRO from the SC in an effort to stop the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan from proceeding with the plunder case.

Arroyo claimed she was wrongly prosecuted for crimes she did not commit, denying any involvement in the alleged misuse of funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) during her presidency.

Director Diosdado Calonge, head of the Ombudsman’s prosecution team, agreed with Bocar that Monday’s arraignment should push through unless a TRO is issued.

Former PCSO board member Manuel Morato, also a respondent in the criminal charge, is also scheduled for arraignment on Monday.

However, it is uncertain if Morato would be able to appear since he underwent heart surgery at the St. Luke’s Medical Center earlier this week.

One of his lawyers, Dennis Manicad, told The STAR yesterday that Morato is still recuperating in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Arroyo herself is under hospital arrest, having been confined at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) because of aggressively worsening health problems.

Arroyo’s principal congressman-ally, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, said Arroyo could be physically fit to attend her arraignment on Monday, but only if the hearings would take only an hour.

“I’m not a doctor and I really don’t know her physical capability to go to court, but if the hearing lasts for just an hour, I think she can,” he said.

Suarez said he and 16 other Arroyo allies recently visited the former president at her VMMC suite.

“It was an occasion that was festive, meaning, the president was happy because her colleagues paid her a visit. We were joking about those who are running unopposed,” Suarez said. “But if you look at her body language, you will see that she has moments of pain, she didn’t feel well,” he added.

Arroyo was supposed to be arraigned two weeks ago, but her doctors took her to the hospital’s intensive care unit for a heart-related problem, prompting the Sandiganbayan to reset her arraignment to Monday.

The anti-graft court earlier ordered her arrested, but before the police could serve the warrant on her, Arroyo had herself confined at VMMC, where her detention was later processed.

No consolidation

Arroyo was granted bail after she was placed under hospital arrest on charges of electoral offense, along with former elections chief Benjamin Abalos.

The former president and Abalos are also co-accused in a graft case before the Sandiganbayan, along with former socio economic planning secretary Romulo Neri, over the botched national broadband network (NBN) deal with China’s ZTE Corp. in May 2010.

In a three-page ruling dated Oct. 19, 2012, the anti-graft court said the criminal charges against both accused, though stemming from the same NBN deal, could not be fused together.

“Consolidation is addressed to the sound discretion of the courts, both by the court that will order the transfer of the case to another, and more importantly, by the court that will accept such transfer, given that such case was not originally raffled to it, and hence, the same would add to its caseload,” the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division said.

The court noted when magistrates of the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division, then headed by Associate Justice Roland Jurado, directed the consolidation of the two cases, prosecutors in the Neri case had already presented six of its 26 witnesses, while those handling the Abalos case had already presented 16 of 66.

The Fourth Division said common witnesses – identified as The STAR columnist Jarius Bondoc, former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., and former secretary Margarito Teves – will also have to be recalled if the cases are to be fused, which would “entail delay for the Abalos case.”

Magistrates further emphasized that Neri himself objected to the consolidation of the cases, believing that it would be prejudicial to him because it “would be absurd given that he was a principal and material witness in the Abalos case and had, in fact, already testified against accused Abalos.”

The Fourth Division favored Neri and said it is a fundamental rule that an accused is entitled to nothing less than the cold neutrality of an impartial judge.

“This court would not want Neri to entertain any doubt in his mind that such formed opinions might impact on the proper disposition of the Neri case where he stands as the accused himself,” the court said. – Jess Diaz, Mayen Jaymalin, Janvic Mateo

Security tightened for GMA arraignment By Reinir Padua (The Philippine Star) Updated October 28, 2012 12:00 AMComments (64)

MANILA, Philippines - Tight security will be implemented both at the Sandiganbayan and the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) for the scheduled arraignment of former president now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on plunder charges tomorrow.

Bomb experts from the Explosives and Ordnance Divisions of the National Capital Region Police Office and the Quezon City Police District will be deployed inside and outside the anti-graft court.

The Police Security Protection Group will provide close-in security for the former president.

Police officers will secure the vicinity of the Sandiganbayan and the route that the former president will be taking for her scheduled court appearance.

Police said they would be on guard against groups, both supportive and critical of Arroyo, that might take advantage of the situation.

Policemen will also patrol major intersections along the route that Arroyo’s convoy will be taking in going to the court.

Lawmen are also ready to control the crowd in case protesters force their way toward the Sandiganbayan and the VMMC. The hospital’s presidential suite will be under heavy guard while Arroyo is out of the hospital.

Sandiganbayan spokesman Renato Bocar earlier said Arroyo’s arraignment would proceed as scheduled unless the Supreme Court (SC) issues a temporary restraining order (TRO).

Earlier, the former president filed a petition for certiorari before the SC questioning her indictment before the First Division of the anti-graft court.

She wanted the SC to issue a TRO to stop the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan from proceeding with the plunder case.

VMMC director Nona Legaspi has also said the former president would be brought to the anti-graft court regardless of her medical condition.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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