Arroyo allowed to leave for Pampanga to vote on May 9

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has allowed detained former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to cast her vote in the May 9 elections in Pampanga.

During its special en banc session on Tuesday, May 3, the SC allowed Arroyo to leave the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City at 8 am on May 9.

She is to be escorted to her polling precinct in the municipality of Lubao in Pampanga and ordered to return immediately after voting, "without fanfare or caravan."

The former president is seeking reelection for a 3rd term as Pampanga representative. She is currently detained at the VMMC over the alleged misuse of P366 million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office intelligence funds from 2008 to 2010.

In the same en banc session, the SC also extended its status quo ante (SQA) order suspending Arroyo's trial for plunder before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.

The High Tribunal granted Arroyo's motion to extend the duration and effectivity of the SQA issued on March 8, 2016.

The order is now extended until June 20, 2016, "unless sooner revoked by the Court."

SC spokesman Theodore Te said that the SQA order been issued pro hac vice, which means that it is applicable for this occasion only and should not be considered as precedent in other cases or similar instances.