POSTED: 5:41 a.m. HST, Jul 25, 2012
MANILA, Philippines >> Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo walked out of a government hospital where she had been detained for nearly eight months on election rigging charges after a court found that evidence against her was weak and granted bail.
Wearing a neck brace, Arroyo smiled and held her grandson’s hand as she left the hospital today. She suffers from a neck ailment and has undergone three operations.
Court spokeswoman Felda Domingo said Arroyo was released after posting bail of 1 million pesos or $23,250. She said Arroyo, who won a seat in Congress in 2010 after stepping down from the presidency, cannot leave the country and needs court permission to visit her district in the northern province of Pampanga.
Judge Jesus Mupas ruled that the evidence presented by prosecutors was not strong enough to deny bail. Election sabotage is normally a non-bailable offense, but bail can be granted if defendants show that the evidence against them is weak.
Arroyo’s successor, President Benigno Aquino III, has targeted the former president for alleged corruption and other wrongdoing during her tumultuous nine years in office.
Arroyo says she’s innocent and accuses her successor of pursuing a political vendetta. Her trial is expected to begin next month.
Government prosecutors filed plunder charges last week in a separate anti-graft court against Arroyo and nine other former officials for alleged misuse of 365 million pesos ($8.7 million) in state lottery funds. Court clerk Estella Teresita Rosete said it did not immediately issue an arrest warrant for Arroyo because her lawyers had filed several motions seeking a suspension of proceedings.
In his ruling Wednesday, Mupas said the only evidence presented by prosecutors that would link Arroyo to alleged vote-rigging in the 2007 elections was testimony by a witness whose credibility was in doubt.
As president, Arroyo oversaw years of corruption scandals, failed coup attempts and political unrest.