Ex-Philippine leader Arroyo freed from years of detention

The Philippine Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plunder case against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and ordered her freed immediately after almost five years of hospital detention - a decision the grateful ex-leader indicated can help her deal with those who "through self-serving interpretation and implementation of the law" made her suffer.

A party-list representative described on Tuesday the granting of the petition of former President and incumbent Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to dismiss her plunder case at the Sandiganbayan as a "great blow" to the country's justice system.

In a statement issued by her lawyers on Wednesday, Arroyo thanked the Supreme Court and newly-installed President Rodrigo Duterte for not standing in the way of her release.

In this February 23, 2012 file photo, former Philippine President and now Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, center, arrives at a Pasay City Court for her arraignment on electoral fraud charges in Manila.

The 69-year-old Arroyo was whisked off a military veterans' hospital in suburban Quezon city and driven to her home in the upscale La Vista residential enclave in the Manila metropolis, her lawyer, Lawrence Arroyo, said.

The high tribunal on Tuesday voted 11 against 4 to dismiss criminal cases against Arroyo, through a "demurrer to evidence".

Despite her detention, a spinal condition and legal cases against her, Arroyo remains an influential figure in national politics.

Jesus Dureza, who had been Arroyo's adviser on peace talks with communist and Muslim rebels told reporters: "I rejoice over this decision that has already given her what she rightly deserves which is justice". "We look forward to working with her in congress and hope she continues to support pro-worker bills and legislation as she has been when she was president", ALU policy advocacy officer Alan Tanjusay said in a text message.

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Arroyo has denied any wrongdoing and called her detention a political persecution.

After Arroyo's acquittal, Morales said they are still conducting a preliminary investigation into another plunder complaint against Arroyo, this time over P57 million in PCSO funds allegedly misappropriated from 2004 to 2007.

She was initially detained for alleged electoral fraud but was later charged with plunder in connection with 366 million pesos (5.9 million pounds) in state lottery funds, some of which had been allocated for intelligence gathering.

Mr Duterte succeeded Mr Aquino in June, and said he was willing to pardon Arroyo.

She is the second former president to spend time in detention over allegations of largescale corruption. "I do not want to make judgments, it is for her to decide", he said.

She was still lucky, her detractors said, for being allowed detention in a hospital suite, and not a regular jail.

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