Former president of the Philippines Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo mug shots (top row)
PHILIPPINES – Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is still under hospital arrest at the of St. Luke’s Hospital in Taguig City in one of its luxurious suites complete with a Jacuzzi and a visitors’ lounge. Arroyo claims that she has life-threatening medical conditions that can only be treated outside the Philippines.
Her alleged illnesses surfaced as a long list of charges against her grew longer, ranging from corruption and electoral fraud to plunder and human rights violations.
As of press time, the Pasay City court summoned Arroyo’s chief physician Dr. Juliet Cervantes to testify on her patient’s most recent ailment. It was reported that the former president has an inflamed colon, which would be grounds for her continued hospital detention.
Pasay Judge Jesus Mupas ordered Dr. Cervantes to bring Arroyo’s files with her to court on December 1st. The files contain laboratory results pertaining to the colitis – an inflammation and infection of the large intestines – that she reportedly developed last week.
“She has three matters to explain before the court,” Pasay court sheriff, Rodelio Buenviaje told reporters after serving the summons. “This will determine whether [the court will] extend the stay of the former president under hospital arrest.”
On November 29, Arroyo’s spokesperson Elena Bautista Horn texted reporters quoting what she said was a medical update given by Dr. Cervantes herself.
The update detailed when Arroyo developed colitis as indicated by “a recurrence of diarrhea since the afternoon of November 25 accompanied by crampy abdominal pain.”
On Saturday, Novemeber 26, doctors examined her stool and the following day, she underwent a colonoscopy where Cervantes found the “progression of colitis,” the text message said.
After the diagnosis, Cervantes said Arroyo was given antibiotics through an IV drip. The medication was to be administered over the next five days.
Aside from the medication, Arroyo was also being rehydrated to replenish the water that she had lost as a result of the diarrhea.
If granted house arrest, Arroyo could either stay in her La Vista, Quezon City house, her house in Lubao, Pampanga, or a sibling’s house in Forbes Park, Makati, which has the advantage of being close to St. Luke’s Hospital.
Meanwhile, Malacañang said it would respect a Supreme Court temporary restraining order (TRO) against a government travel ban on former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is now under hospital arrest.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda gave the assurance even as Arroyo’s lawyers were reportedly preparing to file a petition for bail with the Supreme Court (SC) which, if approved, would test the administration’s commitment to abide by the TRO by finally allowing Arroyo to seek treatment abroad for her cervical spine ailment, a rare bone disorder and other medical complications.
“The warrant of arrest issued by the Pasay City regional trial court takes precedence over the TRO,” Lacierda stressed.
Lacierda also said the government is ready to block any plea for bail by the Arroyo camp.
“We will oppose any application for bail,” Lacierda said.
Comelec filed electoral sabotage charges against Arroyo, former provincial elections supervisor Lintang Bedol, and former Maguindanao governor Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr. for allegedly rigging results in senatorial elections in Maguindanao in the 2007 polls.
Comelec commissioners approved the filing of information last November 18 upon recommendation of the joint Department of Justice-Comelec panel that conducted the preliminary investigation. The Pasay RTC issued a warrant of arrest against Arroyo that same day.
On the same day the TRO was issued, Arroyo and her entourage attempted to board a plane bound for Hong Kong but were prevented from doing so by immigration personnel acting on orders of Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima. Arroyo looked fragile and helpless in a wheelchair, wearing a halo vest that was needed for her cervical spine problem.
Arroyo is the second former president of the country to be arrested on criminal charges filed in court. Her predecessor, Joseph Estrada, whom she pardoned, was convicted of plunder charges. The charges are serious and if convicted, Arroyo faces life imprisonment.