Arroyo lawyers to meet with docs on next legal moveBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is not immediately jumping at the opportunity to get out of the country despite her doctor’s findings that her condition is life-threatening and that she needs to seek immediate medical attention abroad.
House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said Saturday Arroyo had not yet instructed her lawyers to ask the courts to lift the hold departure order on her so she could travel to the United States and Austria for medical treatment.
Suarez said Arroyo’s lawyers were ready to meet with her doctors to discuss her next legal move. Arroyo is facing charges of electoral sabotage in a Pasay regional trial court and plunder and breach of ethics charges in the antigraft court Sandiganbayan.
Dr. Roberto Anastacio, a cardiologist at the Makati Medical Center, told reporters on Friday that he recommended that Arroyo seek treatment in the United States and Austria where they are used to handling cases with repeated surgeries.
Arroyo has undergone surgery three times for an ailment of the bone in the neck.
“She knows the (legal) procedure but there is no marching order yet to [ask] for a [travel clearance from the court,” said Suarez, who phoned the Inquirer soon after discussing the matter with Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative.
Suarez warned of political repercussions if Arroyo died because she remained barred from seeking medical treatment abroad.
“It would be a disaster if something happens to her, a disaster for the administration because as far as the population is concerned, they don’t believe it’s the court [that doesn’t want her to leave]—they believe it’s the Palace,” Suarez said in Filipino.
“Whether we like it or not, the sentiment of the people will be that she was neglected,” he added.
Stopped from leaving
The government stopped a wheelchair-bound Arroyo at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in November last year as she was about to board a flight for Singapore, her first stop in a search for foreign medical treatment.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima defied a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court that, in effect, allowed Arroyo travel because no charges had been filed against her at the time.
The Department of Justice and the Commission on Elections rushed the investigation of electoral sabotage charges against Arroyo and filed the case in the Pasay City Regional Trial Court. Judge Jesus Mupas of the court’s 112th branch promptly ordered Arroyo arrested. In late July, however, Mupas ordered Arroyo temporarily released from detention on P1-million bail, an indication, her lawyers said, that the government’s case was weak.
She won’t escape
Suarez reiterated that Arroyo had committed to face the charges against her.
“She will not run away,” he said. “She will always respect the court.”
The MMC’s Anastacio warned on Friday that Arroyo had “no choice” but to have surgery abroad to correct the shifting titanium plates implanted in the bone of her neck.
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 said he would file a resolution in the House this week in support of Arroyo. He said she should be allowed to go for “humanitarian reasons.”
“There’s no debate anymore—she’s been operated on three times (here),” he said, adding that none of the procedures was successful.
Suarez said he would seek signatures for the resolution both from the minority and majority members of the House.