Giving Arroyo furlough is inappropriate

Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo under hospital arrest.

I don’t really mind if I stand alone criticizing the Christmas furlough granted to former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo by the Sandiganbayan First Division.

In the three years that Arroyo has been under hospital arrest at the Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) on charges of ill-gotten wealth, this is the first time that she will be spending Christmas with her family at home.

First Division Associate Justice Rodolfo Ponferrada, who penned the resolution dated December 22, cited that the furlough was granted “in light of the forthcoming visit of His Holiness Pope Francis, who is the personification of mercy and compassion, over the objection of the prosecution…”

Also in the resolution, Ponferrada cited that when the court had denied Arroyo bail, he had issued a dissenting opinion that stated that “(t)here is no strong evidence that ill-gotten wealth was amassed, accumulated, or acquired by any of the accused as in fact the existence of such ill-gotten wealth was not clearly established.”

Could these statements be a prelude to Arroyo’s transfer from hospital arrest to house arrest and eventually to her exculpation from the charges she is facing before the Sandiganbayan or graft court?

I really hope not, though what Ponferrada is trying to do is condition the people’s mind that Arroyo is just a victim of political persecution.

What absurdity and BS is he talking about?

Besides, what has Pope Francis’ visit got to do with it?

Yes, I fully agree that Francis is, by his words and deeds, ‘the personification of mercy and compassion’, and this description of the pope’s persona has even become the mantra of the officials of the Catholic Church that they themselves have started showing, but when the pope says to be merciful and compassionate he is actually asking people to manifest this tender and caring feeling towards the poor and the downtrodden among us.

Surely, it was not meant for people, especially the affluent and powerful, mandated to lead the country and look after the welfare of its citizens but now are accused of corrupt practices with impunity and detained. It was never meant for the greedy and the selfish and the whole nation knows that Arroyo is nothing but.

What is even making the whole exercise a travesty of justice is that some politicians have sided with Ponferrada and the other graft court justices who concurred with the decision of granting Arroyo a holiday break from detention.

Almost all agreed for ‘humanitarian’ reason, but the most ridiculous reason given was by Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga who said of Arroyo that: “She may be facing charges, non-bailable at that, but yet she has to be convicted. And that is aside the fact she is no flight risk. She is a former president, presently a lawmaker, she is a woman, she is sick, compassion is in order.”

No doubt Barzaga is simply describing the stark reality of our justice system in the country that distinguishes clearly one that is for the rich and one for the poor.

Could somebody remind Barzaga that there are many falsely accused people in prison today, but because they are poor they languish in jail and has surrendered their fate to God instead to the blindfolded Lady Justice.

Shouldn’t they be more the object of our mercy and compassion also?


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