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Arroyo plans new bid to leave Philippines
Ex-president, under investigation for corruption, says it is her right to travel for medical treatment.
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2011 09:35

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the former president of the Philippines who is facing corruption charges, is set to make another attempt to leave the country to seek medical treatment, a day after the government defied a court order and blocked her departure.

According to aides, the former president intends to board a plane on Wednesday to Singapore, where she plans to receive treatment for a bone disease.

"They are very mean. They are very cruel. I feel sad. I feel mad. How can they refuse to follow the supreme court order? That is tyranny."

- Jose Miguel Arroyo, husband

"That is our plan because that is our right," said Ferdinand Topacio, one of Arroyo's lawyers.

The order to block Arroyo's initial trip on Tuesday followed a supreme court ruling that granted her and her husband permission to travel abroad for medical treatment.

The court overruled Benigno Aquino, the current president, who argued that the Arroyos would not return because they are being investigated over allegations of corruption and electoral cheating.

Midas Marquez, supreme court spokesman, said on Wednesday that the Arroyos were free to travel. He said failing to heed the supreme court ruling could be contempt of court.

The justice department, which disagrees, has accused the court of being biased in the case.

Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas, reporting from the capital Manila, explained: "The justice secretary has accused the supreme court judges of having been bought since the judges who ruled in Arroyo's favour were actually technically all voted into their positions by her when she was president," said our correspondent.

'Cruel punishment'

Accompanied by her husband and eldest son, Arroya was wheeled into the airport on Tuesday, but was stopped by immigration officials before she could board a plane to Singapore.

"They weren't able to board the airplane," said Arroyo's lawyer Raul Lambino, accusing the government of inflicting "inhumane, cruel punishment" on his client.

Arroyo and her husband later left the airport in an ambulance and headed to a hospital where she was to be checked for stress, said an ally, Rep Edcel Lagman.

"They are very mean. They are very cruel," husband Jose Miguel Arroyo said of the government. "I feel sad. I feel mad. How can they refuse to follow the supreme court order? That is tyranny."

Arroyo has already undergone three spinal surgeries in Manila, and was shown in photographs distributed by her lawyer wearing an elaborate neck brace. She is also suffering from a parathyroid ailment, her doctors say.

No formal charges

The health secretary met Arroyo and her doctors last week and said her situation was improving and was not life-threatening, said Ortigas.

Aquino offered to fly in foreign doctors to provide medical treatment for Arroyo, who has not been formally charged since she left office.

Our correspondent quoted Leila de Lima, the justice secretary, as saying the government did not want to rush the case and would ensure that Arroyo and her family do not escape justice.

Arroyo, currently a member of congress, is under investigation over several allegations of corruption and electoral fraud during her 2001-2010 presidency. She has denied any wrongdoing.

The supreme court set several conditions for her departure, requiring the Arroyos to post a roughly $40,000 bond and designate a legal representative to act on their behalf. The couple are also required to present themselves to the Philippine embassy at their destination.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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