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Philippine gov't accepts local court decision to release Arroyo

07-25-2012 18:23 BJT

MANILA, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government said it has accepted a local court's decision to grant bail to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, noting that despite this development, it will not dampen its resolve to hold accountable corrupt officials.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Wednesday the government does not consider the decision of Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Jesus Mupas to release Arroyo as a blow to the administration's anti-corruption campaign.

"The fight against corruption continues. We will still go after people found to have plundered the nation's coffer. This will not dampen our resolve to file and to continue to institute corruption cases against responsible officials," Lacierda said in a briefing.

He said there are other cases against Arroyo pending before the courts. These include her alleged involvement in the misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds. The state ombudsman has filed plunder charges against Arroyo before the Sandiganbayan, the country's anti-graft court. The Sandiganbayan has issued a hold departure order against Arroyo, preventing her from leaving the country.

Mupas issued a release order Wednesday morning that allowed Arroyo to post a 1 million pesos (23,792 U.S. dollars U.S. dollars) cash bond for her provisional liberty, noting that the evidence presented against her was weak.

This order ended Arroyo's eight-month hospital detention. Arroyo posted bail and is now back at her house.

Arroyo has been detained in a military hospital since November 2011. The Pasay RTC ordered her arrest after the Commission on Elections filed an electoral sabotage case against her for alleged vote rigging in the 2007 senatorial elections.

In a separate interview, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she was surprised by Mupas' decision, noting that election sabotage is supposed to be a non-bailable offense.

De Lima told reporters that she will meet with Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. to discuss possible legal remedies still available to government lawyers to reverse the ruling of the Pasay RTC.

"The judge (Mupas) was not convinced that the evidence was strong, but of course we disagree," she said.

De Lima said the testimony of lone prosecution witness Norie Unas, the former provincial administrator of Maguindanao, was sufficient to prove Arroyo's guilt.

Unas, in his affidavit, claimed that he was present when Arroyo gave instructions to former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. to ensure a landslide victory for her senatorial bets.

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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