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Gloria Arroyo hospital detention extended

Decision based on security concerns

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police have decided to extend former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s hospital detention, according to the director of Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC), where she is being held.

“She does not have to be confined, but taking into consideration other factors like security in her daily trip to the hospital, a decision made by the DILG and PNP [said] she could stay at the hospital [for the duration of her therapy],” Dr. Nona Legaspi on Friday told the Inquirer in a phone interview.

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“On our part, we also do not want her to miss her daily therapy,” Legaspi said.

Even Dr. Antonio Sison, a government orthopedic surgeon overseeing Arroyo’s condition expressed preference for her continued stay at VMMC on grounds that she required continuous monitoring and close supervision.

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But Sison also said Arroyo could be treated as “an outpatient”—a position held by Commission on Elections (Comelec) prosecutors who had asked that her fitness be verified by the Pasay City court in the hope that it could order her transfer from the government hospital to a regular detention cell in the process.

The court has also yet to rule on Arroyo’s request for permission to attend the wake and funeral of her husband’s brother, Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio Arroyo, who died late last month in London.

Hospital stay ‘better’

Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative, is under hospital arrest for the nonbailable charge of electoral sabotage.

She is accused of ordering the rigging of the 2007 senatorial elections in Maguindanao, along with former Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former election supervisor Lintang Bedol. Arraignment is scheduled on Feb. 20.

“It is better for [Arroyo] to be … at the hospital,” Sison said on Friday at the court hearing her electoral sabotage case when asked if he thought she should be moved to a regular detention facility.

He added that Arroyo was taking a lot of medicines and undergoing daily intensive physical therapy.

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But when asked if the rehabilitation was possible with Arroyo as an outpatient, Sison, a visiting consultant at VMMC, said: “I think so.”

He declined interview requests from reporters after the hearing.

Legaspi said that VMMC in Quezon City hospital had the capacity and capability to continue to treat Arroyo, and that her therapy could last from six months to one year.

‘Not cured’

Under questioning by election prosecutor Charlie Yap, Sison gave an assessment of Arroyo, which was contained in a one-page report he submitted to the court on Wednesday.

Copies of Arroyo’s medical reports were obtained by the Inquirer on Friday morning.

As far as Sison’s field of specialization is concerned, Arroyo continues to be afflicted with cervical spondylosis and lumbar spine stenosis, two diseases initially diagnosed by doctors at St. Luke’s Medical Center where she was confined for months last year.

Despite three surgeries that were done last year to fuse a portion of her spine, Arroyo was “not completely cured” because some of the nerves in her spine still experience occasional compression, according to Sison.

“The objective of fusing the spine was completed, but she is not cured. She needs to be closely supervised in her daily routine,” he said.

The pressure on the nerves explains Arroyo’s neck pain, which “extends to her left shoulder and arm with finger numbness in both hands,” Sison added in his report.

A similar compression of the patient’s nerves in the lower back, on the other hand, accounts for the recurrent back pain that extends to her left side, down to her foot and toes, another assessment of Arroyo’s doctor showed.

Specific dates required

Prosecutors led by Ma. Juana Valeza, division chief at the Comelec, did not object to Arroyo’s request to attend her brother-in-law’s wake. But she said the court should “specifically” be informed of the dates and time covered by the furlough request.

Valeza said the government understood that a family mourned together whenever a member’s death occurred. She asked the defense, however, to inform Arroyo that she should shoulder the costs of her furlough with regard to her security and travel.

Judge Jesus Mupas said he would resolve the request once defense lawyers presented the specific dates and times of Arroyo’s attendance at the memorial services.

Defense counsel Ray Montri Santos issued the commitment that his client would not travel as far as Negros Occidental, the province that the late lawmaker represented in Congress.

First posted 12:14 am | Saturday, February 4th, 2012

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TAGS: Gloria Arroyo’s hospital arrest, Judge Jesus Mupas, Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Rep. Ignacio Arroyo’s wake, the 2007 senatorial elections
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