Is Miriam paying back Gloria for past favors?
I am not a lawyer but an ordinary citizen who has been avidly following the case of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. And I cannot understand why Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is now saying that Arroyo should be tried by the Sandiganbayan rather than by the Pasay Regional Trial Court for electoral sabotage since she is a public official.
I read a recent news report that quoted Political Affairs Undersecretary Ibarra Gutierrez as saying that the filing of the case against Arroyo before a regular court is consistent with Section 268 of the Omnibus Election Code, or Batas Pambansa 881, which specifically vests RTCs with jurisdiction over election offenses, including electoral sabotage.
Gutierrez made the clarification in reaction to the claim of Arroyo’s legal counsel that she should have been charged before the Sandiganbayan rather than a regular court as she is a public official.
Now I’m really surprised that Senator Santiago would take the side of GMA’s lawyer, unless she is paying back a debt of gratitude to the former president for past favors.
At any rate, I believe Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was absolutely correct when she prevented Arroyo from leaving last Nov. 15 for Singapore purportedly to seek medical treatment.
I know that some cause-oriented groups have already filed at least six plunder cases against Arroyo before the Office of the Ombudsman. While these complaints are still being investigated by the Ombudsman before formal charges can be filed before the Sandiganbayan for trial, the judicial process has already started. Thus, Arroyo cannot simply fly the coop and avoid prosecution for plunder, electoral fraud and human rights violations too many to count.
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