Judge seeks security for Arroyo’s chief doctor
The Pasay City Court hearing the electoral sabotage case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has asked the police to provide security and protection to her chief doctor who is expected to testify on her bone ailment on Thursday.
Court sheriff Rodelio Buenviaje said he brought up the matter with the local police after Arroyo’s doctors—main attending physician Juliet Gopez-Cervantes, orthopedic surgeon Mario Ver and endocrinologist Roberto Mirasol—were mobbed by the media last week.
“We already asked for police assistance,” Buenviaje said yesterday after serving Cervantes another set of summonses at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City. “The last time they appeared in court, they encountered so much hardships.”
The doctors were overwhelmed last week when members of the media swarmed on them as they made their way out of the Pasay City Hall of Justice, Buenviaje said, adding the medical team had a difficult time entering and leaving the courtroom.
Appeal to media
He appealed to the media to give witnesses some space to move around in future hearings.
Cervantes was again called back to the witness stand after Arroyo’s lawyers requested to have their client stay at the hospital for at least five more days.
On Wednesday, Arroyo’s spokesperson Elena Bautista-Horn released a medical bulletin issued by Cervantes, detailing how Arroyo contracted colitis, the inflammation of one’s colon, and the treatment she was receiving.
Last week, defense lawyers abandoned their bid to have Arroyo detained indefinitely at the hospital and instead sought house arrest for their client at her sprawling mansion in the exclusive La Vista Subdivision in Quezon City.
Arroyo’s legal team also tried to block the former president’s doctors from taking the witness stand and disclosing Arroyo’s present medical condition, arguing that it was irrelevant at that point.
Fit to leave hospital
But Judge Jesus Mupas ordered Ver to testify on his observations on Arroyo. The doctor said the former president was “fit” to leave the hospital, “as far as my subspecialty was concerned,” and her rehabilitation could be continued as an “outpatient.”
With the disclosure, prosecutors sought Arroyo’s “immediate” detention at a government facility “preferably the Southern Police District (SPD).”
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has filed an electoral sabotage case against the former president and now Pampanga representative for allegedly ordering the disputed “12-0” victory of administration senatorial bets in Maguindanao during the 2007 midterm elections. Her coaccused were former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and election supervisor Lintang Bedol.
The Palace said yesterday it would stand by the Comelec in opposing any bid by Arroyo’s camp to post bail for her.
“If Comelec is going to object (bail application), of course we’re going to support that,’’
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters.”That’s the reason why we prevented (Arroyo’s) departure, we want accountability, we want her to go through the process.’’
In Pampanga, a group advocating good governance and responsible citizenship urged authorities yesterday to ensure that Arroyo would not receive special treatment.
Lawyer Ma. Amelia Tiglao-Cayanan, spokesperson of The Kapampangan Manalakaran Inc. (KMI), said Arroyo should be treated in the same manner as a common offender.
“Her being a representative, or even her being a former president, does not put her over and above us, ordinary citizens,” Cayanan said in a statement.
An opposition lawmaker, however, wants a “gag order” issued on the cases involving Arroyo so as not to influence the courts.
Zambales Representative Milagros Magsaysay said those from the executive and the legislative branches of the government should stop commenting on the merits of the Arroyo cases and just let the judiciary, a co-equal branch, do its thing.
“Let the lawyers be the ones to handle it. Let the prosecution do their bidding in the court and let the defense do their bidding in the court, and let the judge decide,” Magsaysay said. With reports from Christine O. Avendaño, Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon and Cynthia D. Balana