GMA CAN'T BE CHARGED W/ '04 POLL FRAUD / GMA SHOULD BLAME SELF FOR 'TORTURE'

MANILA, DECEMBER 12, 2011 (STAR) By Delon Porcalla - Malacañang clarified yesterday that detained former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cannot be charged with another case of electoral sabotage in connection with the presidential elections of May 2004 because no such law existed at the time.

“In 2004, there was still no electoral sabotage law,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda (photo) said.

“I’m not clear what year it was signed into law but what I’m very sure of is that it (2004 polls) is not covered,” he said.

Republic Act 9369, or the Electoral Sabotage Law, was signed into law by Mrs. Arroyo in January 2007.

In legal parlance, this is called the principle of prospectivity or non-retroactive application of criminal laws, where an enactment of a law cannot have any retroactive effect unless it will be beneficial to the accused in a criminal case.

Arroyo is now facing charges of electoral sabotage – a non-bailable offense – in connection with the May 2007 senatorial elections.

Judge Jesus Mupas of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court branch 12 had ordered the transfer of Arroyo to VMMC from St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City where she was treated for a rare bone ailment.

Mupas issued last Nov. 18 a warrant of arrest for Arroyo after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) filed electoral sabotage charges against her, former Maguindanao provincial elections supervisor Lintang Bedol, and former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. for allegedly rigging results in senatorial elections in Maguindanao in the 2007 polls.

Comelec commissioners approved the filing of information in session last Nov. 18 upon recommendation of the joint Department of Justice-Comelec panel that conducted the preliminary investigation.

The charges against the former president were based on the testimony of Norie Unas, former provincial administrator of Maguindanao, who overheard Arroyo giving instructions to Ampatuan to cheat if necessary, to achieve the administration’s 12-0 senatorial slate.

Pasay RTC has jurisdiction over GMA

Malacañang said Judge Mupas has the discretion on where the ex-president should be detained permanently if her medical condition improves.

“We expect the judge to make his decision based on his assessment and based on realities on the ground, on whatever pleadings will be presented and whatever opposition will be presented by the Commission on Elections,” Lacierda said.

“Again, we are hands off here on the issue of where she should be detained because this would be up to the courts to decide, and even if it sounds like a broken record, that is really the way it is. It’s really based on the discretion of the trial court,” he explained.

Lacierda, however, refused to make any comment with regard to the furlough that Arroyo is seeking from the RTC.

“We will not make any comment on that because the Comelec will make the necessary comment.”

“And they (Comelec lawyers) would certainly make their observations noted by the court. They will file whatever observations they have before the court so let’s wait for the Comelec to make any comment on that issue of furlough,” he said.

He also brushed aside the mental torture that Arroyo has been complaining about.

“How is she being tortured mentally? In all these things that she has been doing, she’s been trying to... we want to exact accountability, I don’t know if that’s mental torture,” Lacierda said over state-run radio dzRB.

“That’s only calling for her to live up to what she promised to do when she was in office and that’s why we are demanding accountability on her. If she’s feeling any pressure on that it’s because she has not lived up to the expectations as president of the land.”

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Arroyo should blame self for ‘torture’ — Palace 12/12/2011

The Palace took another jab at the Arroyo camp the other day, saying that the mental torture former President Arroyo was supposed to be suffering lately cannot be blamed on President Aquino and was the result of her “failing to live up to the what she promised to do when she was in office.”

Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda posed a question to reporters if exacting accountability can be considered mental torture.

The Arroyo camp has alleged that the delay in the transfer of Mrs. Arroyo from the St. Lukes Medical Center in Taguig City to the V. Luna Medical Center in Quezon City constituted mental torture.

“We are going to exact accountability, I don’t know if that’s mental torture. That is only calling for her to live up to and that’s why we are demanding accountability on her,” he said.

If she’s feeling any pressure on that it’s because she has not lived up to the expectations as Chief Executive of the land, Lacierda said.

Lacierda added the place where Arroyo will be detained permanently would be up to the court in response to demands from militant groups that Arroyo be placed in a jail cell like any other accused of a crime.

“We expect the judge po to make his decision based on his assessment and based on realities on the ground and on whatever pleadings will be presented and whatever opposition will be presented by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). So, again, we are hands off on the issue of where she should be detained,” Lacierda added.

Lacierda that in the same manner the furlough being by Mrs. Arroyo to celebrate the holidays with her family would be up to the court and it should be the Comelec which filed the election sabotage case against her to comment on.

“The Comelec will file whatever observations they have before the court so let’s wait for the Comelec to make any comment po on that issue of furlough,” Lacierda added.

The Aquino administration is being blamed for the fiasco last Friday over the transfer of Arroyo from the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City to the Veteran’s Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, a process that took all of 10 hours.

Critics of Aquino said the delay of the transfer is a clear manifestation of the snail-paced decision-making process of the administration.

Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros Magsaysay said she doesn’t believe the Arroyo camp, nor the Philippine National Police (PNP) should be blamed for the nine-hour delay of the transfer of Mrs. Arroyo which caused monstrous traffic jam in the whole metropolis, but the Aquino administration itself as represented by Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.

“The PNP has the capacity to secure the former president as its experience in securing VIPs is beyond question,” said Magsaysay. “And for the part of the former president, she was ready for the transfer as early as 7 in the morning.”

“The only issue to be decided was the mode of transportation to be used for the transfer. But take note that even the Philippine Airlines and the Cebu Pacific had already cancelled their flights as early as 9 a.m. in the morning yesterday,” Magsaysay said. “Why did it take them nine hours to finally decide to transfer the former president by land?”

Meanwhile, supporters and relatives of Arroyo are expected to visit her as the PNP deployed yesterday a security battalion for the additional security inside the VMMC.

Mobile phones and other electornic gadets were banned while visiting the former president at her presidential suite.

Earlier, PNP director general Nicanor Bartolome said that the former president is under detention so bringing cellphones and other electronic gadgets is not allowed inside her detention facility.

Bartolome further said that personal security escorts of Mrs. Arroyo were also banned inside the presidential suite since the PNP is the lone agency that can extend security while she is under detention.

As this developed, Bartolome admitted that they are set to make some security arrangements with the VMMC management noting that there must be some control points wherein visitors must be inspected while entering the VMMC main gate.  


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2011 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE