Philippine court clears former president Arroyo of plunder, orders her freed

The Supreme Court’s ruling paves the way for Arroyo, 69, to walk out of the Veterans Memorial Medical Centre, where she has been detained since October 2012

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 2:46pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 10:36pm

The Philippine Supreme Court has dismissed a plunder charge against former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, ordering her immediate release after nearly five years of hospital detention.

Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te said Tuesday that the 15 justices voted 11-4 to grant Arroyo’s petition seeking the dismissal of the plunder case before an anti-graft court because of a lack of evidence.

Former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo arrested over graft

The case involved the alleged misuse of 366 million pesos ($7.8 million) of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office fund.

The 69-year-old Arroyo, who is suffering from a neck ailment, finished her tumultuous nine-year term in 2010, but was arrested the following year on an election fraud charge, for which she was allowed to post bail. She was later charged with plunder.

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Despite her detention, she was re-elected to Congress in May.

Arroyo, the second Philippine president to be jailed for plunder, was detained under former president Benigno Aquino, who has accused her of corruption and misrule. Aquino’s successor, Rodrigo Duterte, however, took a different position, saying the plunder case against her was weak and offering to grant her a pardon to pave the way for her release.

Arroyo rejected the offer, saying she had to be convicted first of a crime to be eligible for a pardon, and that she preferred to fight the allegation.

In 2001, ousted President Joseph Estrada was also jailed after an anti-graft court convicted and sentenced him to life in prison in 2007. Estrada was later freed after Arroyo pardoned him.