Former Philippines president free on bail

July 25, 2012 at 1:39 PM
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MANILA, Philippines, July 25 (UPI) -- Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former president of the Philippines, was released Wednesday on bail after being held for eight months on corruption charges.

Arroyo posted a bond of $24,000 after a judge ruled vote-rigging charges were weak, The New York Times reported. She was taken from the military hospital where she was being held to her home in Quezon City, a suburb of Manila.

"It is a reaffirmation of what our camp has been saying all along: that the charges against the former president are as thin as the soup made from boiling the shadow of a chicken that has been starved to death," attorney Ferdinand Topacio said in a statement.

Arroyo was arrested in November after trying to leave the country for medical treatment. She was accused of ordering a governor to manipulate congressional election results in favor of her political allies in 2007.

Critics allege the vote-rigging case was used to justify an arrest warrant that would keep the former president from fleeing the country, the newspaper said.

Arroyo still faces trial on the vote-rigging charge, as well as corruption charges involving alleged kickbacks from a $329 million government contract with the ZTE Corp. of China. She is also accused of misusing government lottery money. She has denied all the allegations.

President Benigno Aquino, who has used Arroyo's detention as proof of his determination to end political corruption, said he respects the decision of the court.

"Certainly, we respect the independence of the judiciary in this case, and the fact that she has been allowed to leave the hospital is proof positive of our respect for the judiciary," a spokesman for the current president said.

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