Arroyo to stay in the same hospital suite Estrada was incarceratedBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines—Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be incarcerated in the same suite at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center where disgraced leader Joseph Estrada was detained, a hospital official said.
Dr. Nona Legaspi, director of the VMMC, said Arroyo would be confined at the VMCC’s presidential suite, which is bullet-proof and about 150 square meters in size.
Still being cleaned, the airconditioned room has a 32 to 35 square meters of a receiving area, kitchen, dining area, rooms for staff and security aides and common toilet and bath, said Legaspi.
Legaspi said that the kitchen inside the facility had a refrigerator and a gas range, amenities which she described to be “very basic.”
Asked whether Arroyo’s medical treatment would be handled by VMMC physicians, Legaspi said that the issue was still being discussed.
“We still want to know if she can have her own doctor or if it (treatments) will be relinquished to us,” she said.
Judge Jesus Mupas of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court on Thursday ordered the transfer of Arroyo, who has been arrested on charges of electoral sabotage, from the posh St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City to the government-run hospital.
Estrada and his son Senate Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada were both confined at the VMCC in 2001 while facing charges of plunder filed by the Arroyo administration.
But Legaspi could not yet ascertain the security measures that would be put in place by the Philippine National Police.
She said that police officials would be meeting with her Friday morning to lay out security plans.
Legaspi gave assurances there would be no disturbance to the rest of the government-owned hospital as the presidential suite was far from the rest of the regular hospital wards.
On the cost of Arroyo’s stay at the hospital, she said that it was still under talks. The most expensive suite available for civilians at the VMCC is priced at P2,500 per day and has a size of 30 square meters.
Charlie Gueb, detachment commander of the security agency guarding the hospital, said that Arroyo would be “very safe” at the presidential suite.
Back when Estrada was detained at the VMMC, Gueb said that even the vehicles coming and leaving the area were routinely inspected by military and police officers assigned to guard the VMMC.
Forty-three security officers are guarding the VMMC, he said. “I am not sure how much the military and police will add once the former president is here.”
There has been no word yet on how many police officers will be deployed to the area, however, said Quezon City Police District Intelligence chief Superintendent Nestor Abalos as he arrived at the VMMC to inspect the room Arroyo would use.
Authorities will be having a conference with Legaspi to lay out security measures for Arroyo’s stay at the hospital at around 9 a.m. Friday at the VMMC, said Abalos.
Court sheriff Rodelio Buenviaje at noon Thursday furnished Legaspi with a copy of the order from the Pasay Regional Trial Court Branch 112 instructing the transfer of the former leader to the VMMC.
Arroyo is expected to be transferred to the VMMC five days from the date the court order is received.
Arroyo was arrested last November 18 on charges of electoral sabotage and has since remained hospitalized at the St. Luke’s Medical Center due to her rare bone ailment.
Originally posted at 3:19 p.m.