Confusion in court: SC issues TRO for GMA co-accused

Posted at 10/29/2012 1:18 PM | Updated as of 10/29/2012 5:03 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court Third Division has issued a halt order on the arrest of a co-accused of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in a P366 million plunder case. The decision, however, caused confusion after an SC official said the halt order also covered the arrest of Mrs. Arroyo.

In a resolution dated October 24, 2012, the SC Third Division said it is "enjoining the Sandiganbayan from implementing its assailed resolution dated October 3, which ordered the issuance of an arrest warrant versus petitioner, among others."

The SC’s Third Division, however, only took into consideration the petition of Commission on Audit -Intelligence Fund Unit head Nilda B. Plaras for issuance of TRO and writ of preliminary injunction. It also required respondents to comment on the petition in 10 days.

The resolution specifically stated a halt order on the arrest warrant versus the petitioner Plaras and “among others.” The October 3 resolution covered not just Plaras’ arrest warrant, but also that of Arroyo’s and other respondents in the plunder case involving P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.

A high-ranking official of the SC said the “among others” clause created confusion. By including the “among others” clause, the TRO should have covered all those in the October 3 resolution.

SC public information office chief Maria Victoria Gleoresty Guerra said this morning the SC TRO on the October 3 resolution covered Arroyo. She later recalled this initial statement after some justices allegedly sought clarification.

The Sandiganbayan, nonetheless, interpreted the TRO to only cover Plaras' petition. Thus, the arraignment of Arroyo pushed through this morning.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno earlier implemented a “dignified silence” stance in the High Court.

She said then: “Wisdom leads me to seek to return the Supreme Court to its days of dignified silence when justices were heard and read through their writings, and when actions of the court were best seen in their collective resolutions.”