Arroyo has chance at bail, her lawyer says
MANILA, Philippines - Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may yet post bail and campaign for reelection as Pampanga representative if the Sandiganbayan rules in her favor in bail hearings.
Arroyo, who is facing the non-bailable offense of plunder in connection with the alleged misuse of some P366 million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds, wants the anti-graft court's First Division to reject evidence presented by the prosecution in the bail hearings.
Her lawyer, Anacleto Diaz, believes that the testimony of the prosecution's principal witness, Ma. Aleta Tolentino, is hearsay because she had no direct personal knowledge of the alleged transactions involving the PCSO funds.
"We intend to challenge their evidence. The court can certainly rule not to admit evidence that we can prove to be irrelevant or hearsay," he said.
"Aleta Tolentino is the prosecution's principal witness. If the court declares her testimony as hearsay, they would have no case to speak of," Diaz said.
Arroyo, incumbent congresswoman of Pampanga's 2nd district, has been under hospital arrest since October last year after the Sandiganbayan issued warrants against her and her co-defendants.
The other defendants in the case are former PCSO general manager Rosario C. Uriarte; former PCSO Board chairman Sergio O. Valencia; PCSO board directors Manuel L. Morato, Jose R. Taruc V, Raymundo T. Roquero and Ma. Fatima A. S. Valdes; PCSO budget officer Benigno B. Aguas; former Commission on Audit chairman Reynaldo Villar and former COA-Intelligence Fund Unit head Nilda B. Plaras.
Valencia, Morato, Roquero and Aguas have also been arrested and are seeking bail.
The other defendants have reportedly gone into hiding overseas.