Estrada wary of planned Arroyo trip
MANILA, Philippines—Former President Joseph Estrada said Friday he saw nothing wrong with the Aquino administration imposing strict conditions on the planned medical check-up abroad of his successor, ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whom he described as a flight risk.
Estrada said he had received “very reliable” information from the medical community that Arroyo, who now represents Pampanga in Congress, has already recovered following a series of surgeries on her cervical spine.
“I got this very reliable information from doctors that she is now okay,” he told the Inquirer in Filipino. “That’s why I think there should be a thorough check-up to determine if she really has to go abroad for further treatment. It has to be ascertained that we don’t have sufficient equipment and experts to take care of her. If she’s really sick, then she can go.”
Estrada was wary that the Arroyo camp might be using her medical condition to evade prosecution in the Philippines.
“Baka tumakbo. Sa dami ng kasalanan nya rito, wala nang lusot yan (She might escape. She can’t evade the many crimes she is accused of here)” said the ex-president, who himself had to seek treatment abroad for a bad knee during the Arroyo administration.
The Department of Justice earlier placed Arroyo on its watch list, a move that two administration senators described as “illegal.”
To be able to leave the country, the congresswoman would have to obtain an “allow-departure order” from the DOJ. But Senators Franklin Drilon and Francis Escudero said only the courts could issue a hold-departure order against any individual.
Drilon noted that the watch list order “had the effect” of a hold-departure order.
Arroyo was included on the watch list after she was implicated in an electoral sabotage case now being investigated by a joint panel of the DOJ and the Commission on Elections.
“The watch list (order), which has the effect of a hold-departure order, is illegal,” Drilon said. “The right to travel is a constitutional right, and a restriction on the right to travel in the guise of a watch-list order, to me, is also illegal.”