Court orders Arroyo transferred to gov't hospital

AP News
Posted: Dec 01, 2011 12:56 AM
Court orders Arroyo transferred to gov't hospital

A Philippine court on Thursday gave former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo five days to move to a government hospital after she was arrested on electoral fraud charges at a high-end private medical facility. Her allies decried the move as a political vendetta.

Prosecutors say Arroyo should not receive preferential treatment. They want her detained in jail like any other suspect, but her lawyers say she is suffering from a bone ailment.

Doctors who last week said she was fit to be discharged testified Thursday that she needs additional treatment for a colon inflammation she developed in recent days.

Arroyo's lawyers want her held under house arrest at the private hospital or at home while she fights the charges.

President Benigno Aquino III's government, vowing to uproot corruption and blaming Arroyo for graft while she was in power, have refused to let her travel overseas for medical treatment, even after the Supreme Court ruled in her favor. She wore a head and neck brace as she was turned away from the Manila airport last month.

The arrest of Arroyo, who survived several coup attempts sparked by corruption allegations during her nine-year presidency, has galvanized the Philippines.

Judge Jesus Mupas of the Pasay Regional Trial Court gave Arroyo, 64, until next Tuesday to transfer from the private hospital where she was arrested last month to a government medical facility.

He said that considering Arroyo is under legal custody, "it is difficult to justify if the accused will remain in a private hospital."

The judge said she can bring her nurses and doctors to the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Manila _ the same facility where Arroyo's predecessor, Joseph Estrada, was confined after he was toppled in 2001 on corruption charges. He was later convicted and pardoned by Arroyo.

The court said, however, that Arroyo _ like other detainees _ won't be allowed to use a cellphone or computer.

The court has not yet ruled on the petition for house arrest and Arroyo's allies have argued for lenient treatment and respect for the former president.

Arroyo's son, Rep. Dato Arroyo, last week decried what he called the "nonstop vilification of my mother" and "the never-ending cases" being filed against her.