Doctors clear Arroyo to travel
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been given the go-signal by her doctors to seek medical treatment abroad amid warnings by one of her critics that she should not be allowed to leave as she would not return to face the plunder and electoral fraud charges against her.
According to Arroyo’s spokesperson, Elena Bautista-Horn, the doctors had said it was “OK for her to travel.”
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives released an extended travel order for the former President, now Pampanga representative, allowing her trip to the United States, Germany, Singapore, Italy and Spain with her husband, security aide and private nurse up to December 5.
Arroyo’s relatives and allies have said that the former President has been losing weight and have urged her to seek medical help abroad for her hypoparathyroidism, which her doctors diagnosed after a third surgery on her spine at the St. Luke’s Medical Center.
Last week, Arroyo’s doctors issued a medical bulletin reporting a significant improvement in the former President’s health.
Arroyo’s lawyer, Raul Lambino, insisted that Arroyo has no plans to remain abroad and evade charges.
“She is a congresswoman and her family is here, she will stay here,” said Lambino in a phone interview.
Arroyo has been issued a subpoena to appear in the preliminary hearings of the joint Department of Justice and the Commission on Elections probe into her alleged sabotage of the 2007 elections.
Lambino stressed that Arroyo’s appearance at these hearings was not mandatory.
But San Juan Representative Joseph Victor Ejercito warned that Arroyo was unlikely to return to the country until President Benigno Aquino III’s term ends in 2016.
In a text message, Ejercito said Arroyo’s choice of Spain, which was close to Portugal, betrayed her plans to evade the charges against her here.
“This only confirms GMA’s (Arroyo) exit plan. Portugal is their country of choice because it has no extradition treaty with the Philippines. I received information that the Arroyos already have properties and assets in Portugal in preparation for asylum,” he said.
Ejercito is a son of deposed President Joseph Estrada who was impeached and then ousted in the second Edsa people power revolution of 2001 that brought Arroyo to power. Estrada was convicted for plunder in 2007 and sentenced to 30 years in prison but was immediately pardoned by Arroyo.
The San Juan congressman noted that his father had remained in the country even though he faced the prospect of jail.
Subject to suspicion
“Flight means guilt. President Erap (Estrada) faced all accusations even if he was offered to leave with no charges to be filed (against him). The Arroyos are evading all issues,” he said.
Malacañang meanwhile said it was agreeable to a “third-party expert” being designated to assess the health condition of Arroyo, noting that she plans to seek treatment in three countries that had no extradition treaties with the Philippines.
“Because if you’re going to use only our opinion or our political consideration or the statement of Representative Arroyo, both statements will be subject to suspicion. So we really need a third-party credible medical opinion to say one way or the other,” said Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
One possible option that the justice department “may want to look into” was getting a government doctor to check out Ms. Arroyo, he said. With a report from Christine Avendaño