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SC extends suspension of trial of ex-President Arroyo

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Photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer


MANILA — The Supreme Court has extended the status quo ante order it issued stopping the Sandiganbayan from proceeding with the plunder trial of former President now Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the alleged misuse of P366 million in intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

Lawyer Theodore Te, spokesman of the high tribunal, said the original 30-day order issued on October 20 was been extended to 90 days, or until February next year.

Aside from suspending the trial, the petition filed October 15 by Arroyo through her counsel former Justice Secretary and solicitor general Estelito Mendoza also asked the high court to dismiss the charges and to schedule oral arguments.

The petition cited the ruling of a United Nations panel that called Arroyo’s detention arbitrary and a violation of her human rights.

Arroyo, who is running unopposed for her third and final term as representative of Pampanga’s second district, has been denied bail by the anti-graft court and remains in detention at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.

Ironically, all her co-accused -- former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte, and former board members Manuel Morato, Jose Taruc, Raymundo Roquero and Ma. Fatima Valdes, budget and accounts manager Benigno Aguas, former Commission on Audit chairman Reynaldo Villar, and former COA anti-fraud official Nilda Plaras -- were allowed to post bail.

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