TACLOBAN CITY – Political allies here in the region of former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo expressed their delight over her release from detention. Arroyo, president of the country from 2001 up to 2010, was acquitted by the Supreme Court on the plunder charge filed against her by the Office of the Ombudsman over alleged misuse of the intelligence fund worth P366 million of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office(PCSO) on Tuesday(July 19)voting 11-4. Victor Domingo, who held various government posts during the Arroyo administration, the last being secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways(DPWH), said he is happy that after almost five years, “justice prevailed” in favor of the former Chief Executive.  “From the beginning, I believe there was no basis of those charges against her since she did not seat as member of the PCSO board. She just trusted the judgment of the board and did not personally use the money,” said Domingo, who was also a PCSO director during the early years of the Arroyo presidency. He also said that the former president should have been released earlier considering her weak condition. “They should have considered Arroyo’s health. It was not prosecution, but persecution as she was not able to leave the country to get the best treatment For former congressmen Sergio Apostol of Leyte and Emil Ong of Northern Samar, the release of Arroyo was only an indication that the plunder charge filed against her was weak from the very beginning. “Arroyo did not embezzle the intelligence funds of the PCSO. She was just involved because of the marginal note(she made),” Apostol said.
Ong, meantime, said that his only disappointment is that Arroyo was released only this time as she is suffering from a debilitating ailment. “It’s too harsh. Why did they delay the decision of the case if the respondent is innocent,” Ong said.  (SARWELL Q. MENIANO/RYAN GABRIEL ARCENAS)