President Benigno Aquino today predicted his predecessor Gloria Arroyo would soon return to jail on corruption charges a day after she was released on bail on lesser charges of voting fraud.
Speaking at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Manila, Aquino admitted the electoral fraud charges against Arroyo had been weak, prompting her release from a hospital in Manila where she was being treated for a degenerative bone disease during her eight months in detention.
Aquino said the Pasay City judge granted Arroyo bail because no-one could corroborate the testimony of a lone witness in relation to charges the former president rigged a 2007 election.
“But there is still a case pending at the Sandiganbayan [Anti-Corruption Court],” said the president. “It’s plunder, and with plunder there is no bail.”
Following her arrest when trying to fly out of the country to seek medical treatment in November, Arroyo is still banned from leaving the Philippines and faces charges of misusing state lottery funds and of taking kickbacks from the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corporation.
Akbyana Party member Risa Hontiveros and three private prosecutors appeared before the Anti-Corruption Court today in a request to issue an arrest warrant on the corruption charges.
“We call on the Sandiganbayan to step up the process of deliberating on the plunder case against Arroyo to gain closure on her corrupt past,” said Hontiveros.
Investigations against Arroyo follow promises by Aquino that he would tackle corruption at the highest level when he came to power two years.
Critics have though accused authorities of bungling efforts to prosecute Arroyo amid claims election fraud charges were flimsy compared to the more robust and serious charges of corruption she now faces.
Arroyo insists she is innocent of all charges, claiming the ongoing investigations into her nine-year presidency are politically motivated.
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