Jailed ex-Philippine leader Arroyo granted holiday furlough

Jailed ex-Philippine leader Arroyo granted holiday furlough
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
PHOTO: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Jailed former Philippine president Gloria Arroyo will be allowed home over the Christmas and New Year holidays, the Supreme Court decided Tuesday.

Arroyo, who is being held in a government hospital after being arrested for alleged graft, would be allowed to go to her home in a Manila suburb from December 23-26 and December 30- January 2, said court spokesman Theodore Te.

"It is understood that notwithstanding the furloughs the petitioner shall remain under preventive custody of the law," Te announced.

Arroyo, who was in office from 2001-2010, was arrested in 2012 on charges of stealing 366 million pesos ($8.8 million) in state lottery funds meant for charity programmes.

She is on trial but the proceedings have been repeatedly delayed.

Her successor and arch-critic Benigno Aquino has long accused her of major crimes and has exerted special efforts to keep her in detention.

Asked to react to the grant of furlough, Aquino's spokesman Herminio Coloma said: "We respect the decision of the Supreme Court." Arroyo's lawyers have said the former president, who reportedly has a spinal illness, should be granted bail especially since she is not a flight-risk.

Arroyo's term was marred by allegations of corruption and election cheating which helped propel Aquino, who ran on an anti-corruption platform, to power.

However in September a UN body said her detention violated international law, raising hopes the Supreme Court may eventually agree with a petition to grant her bail.

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