MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo should quit as congresswoman of Pampanga’s 2nd District now that she is facing electoral sabotage charges before a local court, a lawmaker said Tuesday.
In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said Arroyo will be unable to function effective in Congress “considering her prolonged detention due to the string of serious, unbailable charges that she faces.”
He also said Arroyo brought “embarrassment and dishonor” to the House of Representatives after she was charged with manipulating the results of the 2007 election.
“Therefore she should now do the House and her constituents a favor by resigning from Congress,” he said.
Casiño said a special election can then be called in her district so the people can elect a working, suitable representative in Congress.
Another party-list lawmaker, Alliance of Concerned Teachers’ Rep. Antonio Tinio, also echoed Casiño’s call for Arroyo to resign.
Tinio said Arroyo’s “culpable actions as President have long rendered her unfit for public service; her present incarceration renders it impracticable.”
Meanwhile, Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan said it would be up to Arroyo to resign. She criticized the alleged VIP treatment of Arroyo, particularly the hospital arrest of the former president.
Ilagan said Arroyo’s prosecution is the only way for impunity to end.
Her fellow lawmaker, Gabriela Rep. Emmy de Jesus, said she wants President Aquino to know and feel their sentiments supporting the quick prosecution of cases against Arroyo.
Separately, Akbayan lawmakers slammed any possible moves by Arroyo’s allies to accord Arroyo some protection.
“The people’s right to justice must take precedence over the right of a single individual. The Minority should stop treating this House as if it were a shelter for crooks, plunderers, and criminals,” Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-ao said in a statement.
Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello argued that Gloria has no right to special treatment.
“A hospital arrest is better than protective custody. But if there is fear of real threats to her well being, the DOJ can simply increase its complement of PNP and DOJ personnel providing security for her,” Bello said.
The party-list congressman also pointed out that it would be unwise to bring Arroyo to the Batasang Pambansa where she would be closer to her staunchest allies. “At a time when all of Gloria’s escape routes are blocked off, bringing GMA to Congress would open a little window of opportunity for her to plot her final escape,” he said.
House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III earlier said the electoral sabotage case cannot be used to remove Arroyo as a member of the lower House since it involves allegations that supposedly occurred before she became a lawmaker.
He stressed that only after conviction by final judgment can Arroyo be removed from office.
In the meantime, Arroyo’s son and Ang Galing Pinoy party-list Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo may be designated a caretaker of his mother’s district, where he served before 2010. Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News