Fri, Dec 02, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Court in Philippines orders Arroyo out of private hospital

Reuters, MANILA

People leave the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, Philippines, yesterday.

Photo: EPA

A Philippine court yesterday ordered former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to be transferred to a public hospital after one of her doctors said she was well enough to move from the private hospital where she has been since her arrest last month.

Arroyo, president from 2001 to last year and a now a member of the Philippine Congress, has been under heavy guard at the private Manila hospital since her arrest last month on charges of rigging results in elections in 2007.

Arroyo, 64, denies all charges against her and says she needs to travel overseas for treatment, but the government fears she wants to avoid investigation and prosecution.

The Pasay City court said Arroyo should be transferred within five days to the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, where her predecessor, former president Joseph Estrada, was also held for several months while facing trial for plunder.

Estrada was forced from office in 2001 and was convicted of plunder after a six-year trial. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was pardoned by Arroyo two weeks later.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino backed the court’s ruling, saying the move would be for her own safety after Arroyo’s spokeswoman, Elena Bautista-Horn, said there was a plot to kill the former leader that was codenamed “Put the little girl to sleep.”

Philippine Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Jesse Robredo dismissed the alleged plot as mere rumor. Aquino’s spokeswoman, Abigail Valte, said the plot was a fabrication.

Arroyo was arrested in hospital on Nov. 18, three days after she was stopped by the government from boarding a flight to Singapore, where she said she needed medical treatment for a spine problem.

Bautista-Horn said Arroyo would comply with the court order, but would request more time to prepare for her transfer.

“We are hoping that after her transfer she will still get her own doctors to look after her,” she said.

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