Judge gives Gloria Arroyo sunshine fixBy Nancy C. Carvajal
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Officials of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC), where former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is under hospital arrest, have allowed her to go out of her presidential suite so she can enjoy the morning sun.
Dr. Nona Legaspi, director of the VMMC, said Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Jesus Mupas had granted the request of Arroyo to be allowed to go out in the morning to have her dose of Vitamin D.
“The court granted the request based on the recommendation of her attending physician because she needs Vitamin D,” Legaspi said.
She explained that the attending physician recommended that Arroyo should be exposed to the morning sun for her dose of Vitamin D for her calcium requirements.
The VMMC director said that Vitamin D was needed to be absorbed for calcium to be processed.
Nothing like the sun
“We can also take tablets for Vitamin D but there is nothing like having some sun,” Legaspi stressed.
She added that the vital signs of the former executive are stable.
Legaspi said she was informed about the court’s decision by Dr. Victoria Javier, the VMMC infectious disease specialist, also the attending physician of Arroyo, who appeared on Friday morning before the RTC judge.
Legaspi, however, said that Arroyo does not have to go to the golf course for sunlight because her suite is facing east, and has plenty of sunlight in the morning.
“Just near the suite, there’s plenty of sunlight because it’s facing east,’’ she said.
But Senior Supt. Rainer Idio, Quezon City Police Director for Operations, said they have not received a copy of the judge’s decision.
“We are not yet informed on the matter, but if it’s a court order, we will abide,” he said.
He added that the Police Security and Protection Group which has jurisdiction over security of Arroyo would implement order.
As this developed, the Pasay City RTC is expected to resolve before Christmas Day a motion seeking a furlough for Arroyo for the holidays.
In a hearing on Friday, Commission on Elections (Comelec) lawyers posed no objection to the former president’s wish for fresh air and sunshine, to hear mass at the hospital chapel, as well as her having a TV and a radio inside her room at the VMMC.
Comelec lawyer Maria Juana Valeza explained that it was Christmas after all and gave way for the granting by the court of the simple requests.
But Valeza oppose the use by the former president of a mobile phone and laptop computer.
Arroyo’s Jose Flaminiano argued that he saw no security risk nor safety risk in allowing his client’s use of the electronic equipment.
He moved that their urgent motion for temporary house arrest during Christmas be granted, saying, “Be generous.”
Arroyo is asking the court to be allowed to go home and be with her family for the holidays from Dec. 23 to Jan. 2.
‘That’s too much’
But Comelec lawyer John Rex Laudiangco strongly opposed the motion, saying Arroyo can bring all her family to the VMMC. “But to bring her outside to her home, that’s too much,” he said.
He said allowing Arroyo a Christmas furlough would be a “strenuous security risk” that would be taxing to the Philippine National Police and to the former president’s health.
Flaminiano’s cocounsel argued that the VMMC was just near their client’s home in La Vista Subdivision in Quezon City and that the PNP’s ability to secure the former president had been aptly tested and proven during her transfer from St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City to the VMMC in Quezon City.
Laudiangco reiterated that the Comelec posed no objection to Arroyo’s being with her family at the VMMC and submitted the issue to the discretion of the court along with the disputed issue on her use of a mobile phone and laptop computer.
Judge Mupas set the hearing for the resolution of Arroyo’s motion for house arrest on Jan. 9 next year. With a report from Jeannette I. Andrade