ARROYO ... DERRIERE LES BARREAUX ?
Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who tried to leave the country on medical grounds while the government scrambled to file charges against her, is well enough to leave the hospital where she was arrested last week, she and her doctors agree.
Arroyo lawyer Jose Flaminiano told a court Friday he was withdrawing his motion for a hospital arrest in favor of house arrest. Earlier, he had resisted efforts to have doctors testify about Arroyo's condition.
Arroyo has had three surgeries on her cervical spine, and she argued before her arrest that she needed to travel abroad for an urgent bone treatment that she claimed was unavailable in the Philippines.
The government refused to let her go this month, even after the Supreme Court ruled in her favor. She wore a head and neck brace as she was turned away from the Manila airport.
Arroyo successor President Benigno Aquino III has said the government wouldn't object to house arrest and wants the former leader treated with respect.
Arroyo, who left office last year, is charged with ordering the rigging of 2007 congressional polls, which she denies. If convicted, she faces life imprisonment.
Aquino promised to uproot corruption in the Philippines and says he wants to start with Arroyo, accusing her of proliferating a culture of graft and eroding public trust in government.
Judge Jesus Mupas of the Pasay Regional Trial Court earlier ordered Arroyo's doctors at Manila's St. Luke's Medical Center to testify about her condition. Flaminiano objected, citing doctor-patient confidentiality and the fact she was no longer seeking a hospital stay, which the court had previously approved on humanitarian grounds and because of Arroyo's stature.
The Commission on Elections, an independent body that filed the charges against Arroyo, asked to be given three days before responding to Arroyo's motion for house arrest.
In the meantime, commission lawyer Juana Valesa wants Arroyo to be transferred to a government hospital. Flaminiano objected, saying she should stay in remain in the private hospital where she has been treated until the court decides whether to allow house arrest.
The Philippine government on Friday asked a court to order ex-president Gloria Arroyo, who has been charged with vote rigging, to be moved out of hospital and into a police detention facility.
Arroyo, 64, faces life in prison if convicted of charges of conspiring with a warlord to rig senatorial elections, and she faces years in legal limbo as her case works its way through the Philippines' slow justice system.
Arroyo is now under police guard at a Manila hospital where she is seeking treatment for what her lawyers say is a rare bone disease.
"We moved that she be transferred to a detention facility," Valleza, lawyer for the government election commission, told AFP after a court hearing.
She said a special private room at a police station had already been prepared.
"She will be staying there in a room without the company of other prisoners. The size is quite adequate for her personal and medical needs," Valleza said.
The court is to consider the motion at a hearing on Tuesday, and a ruling is expected early next month, clerk of court Joel Pelicano said.
Arroyo's lawyers meanwhile, asked the court to allow her to go home and be placed under house arrest, but Valleza said the government was against this.
"We have no control over her house and we cannot monitor her constantly. The house is not under jurisdiction of the courts," she added.
Court cases take an average six years to be completed in the Philippines. So if the court rules Arroyo be detained at a police station while she is on trial, she faces years behind bars before a verdict is even reached.
Her successor, Benigno Aquino, has vowed to have her charged for a wide range of other corrupt acts she allegedly committed while in power.
Arroyo has denied all the allegations of wrongdoing and her lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to throw out the vote rigging charges.
Retrouvez-moi sur < www.expatauxphilippines.blogspot.com >