Arroyo in no hurry to seek operation abroad, says allyBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is not jumping at the opportunity to fly abroad despite her doctor’s warning that her “deadly” medical condition could be addressed only by a team of experts outside of the Philippines.
House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said Saturday that Arroyo had yet to instruct her lawyers to ask the courts to lift the hold departure orders against her so she could heed the advice of Dr. Roberto Anastacio, a cardiologist at the Makati Medical Center.
“She knows the procedure but there is no marching order yet” to her lawyers to seek travel clearance from the courts, said Suarez, who phoned the Inquirer soon after discussing the matter with Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative in Congress.
Suarez said Arroyo’s lawyers were set to meet with her doctors to discuss her next legal move. Arroyo is facing charges of electoral sabotage in a Pasay City court and plunder in the Sandiganbayan.
Pending official motions in the courts, Suarez warned of the possible political repercussions in the event that Arroyo remained barred from seeking medical treatment abroad and succumbed to her serious medical condition.
“It would be a disaster if something happens to her, a disaster for the administration,” he said, “because as far as the population is concerned, they don’t believe it’s the courts that don’t want her to leave—they believe it’s the Palace.”
“Whether we like it or not, the sentiment of the people will be that she was not taken care of,” he added.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima stopped a wheelchair-bound Arroyo from leaving the country in November last year supposedly to explore possible medical treatments abroad.
De Lima defied a Supreme Court temporary restraining order, which, in effect, would have allowed Arroyo to fly out of the country because of the absence of any case against her at that time.
The government rushed an electoral sabotage case against Arroyo, who was promptly ordered arrested by Pasay City Regional Trial Court Judge Jesus Mupas. Mupas later allowed Arroyo to post bail of P1 million, which was interpreted by her camp as an indication that the case was weak.
Suarez said Arroyo was committed to facing the charges against her.
“She will not run away,” he said. “She will always respect the court.”
Arroyo’s doctor faced the media Friday, warning that the former President “has no choice” but to have surgery abroad to correct the shifting titanium plates that have been given problems in breathing and swallowing.
Anastacio said the condition had become “progressive and aggressive” and could be addressed only by a team of experts currently not available in the Philippines.
Suarez, who will file a resolution in support of Arroyo next week, said she should be allowed to go for “humanitarian reasons.”
“There’s no debate anymore—she’s been operated on three times,” he said, noting that none of the procedures had been successful.
Suarez said he would seek signatures for the resolution both from the minority and other members of the House.
He said the resolution would be intended to throw support behind a “fellow member (of the House) in her medical condition, specifically on the possibility of looking for the proper doctor and the proper hospital.”