Pasay court sets GMA bail hearing on March 15, 22, 29

March 3, 2012 1:56 am 

MANILA, March 2 — Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Presiding Judge Jesus Mupas has set the hearing on the reiterative petition for bail filed by the camp of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on March 15, 22 and 29.

Pasay RTC Branch 112 spokesperson and legal researcher Felda Domingo said Mrs. Arroyo’s camp will present first their evidence, followed by the prosecution.

At the same time, Domingo said Judge Mupas also ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec), which filed the electoral sabotage charges against the former president, to file its comment or opposition to the petition on or before March 12.

In the petition, Arroyo’s counsel Benjamin Santos said the 1987 Constitution provides that every accused has the right to post bail.

“The former president is exercising her right under our Constitution to seek bail,” Santos said, adding that the term “non-bailable” is actually a misnomer since the Constitution says every accused has the right to bail.

Santos said they are prepared to argue their case that Mrs. Arroyo be allowed to post bail and enjoy temporary liberty while the charges is being heard by Mupas.

Electoral sabotage is a non-bailable offense, especially if the evidence is strong, but in their earlier motion for bail, Arroyo’s camp argued that the government’s case against the former leader is weak as it is based only on a single statement of Norie Unas, the former provincial administrator of Maguindanao, who told the Department of Justice (DOJ) that he heard the former president order then former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. to ensure the win of the administration candidates in the 2007 mid-term polls at all costs.

The 64-year-old former chief executive entered a not guilty plea on the charges late last month. The court has set the pre-trial of the case on April 19.

Mrs. Arroyo is currently detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City where she is undergoing daily therapy for her spinal ailment.

In a related development, Mupas also set the arraignment of Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former election supervisor Lintang Bedol on March 19.

Ampatuan is detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City where he, along with other members of his clan, are facing multiple murder charges in connection with the 2009 Maguindanao massacre case. Bedol is under the custody of the poll body and the Department of Justice (DOJ). (PNA) scs/CLTC

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