Manila: Former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who tried to leave the country on medical grounds while the government scrambled to file charges against her, is well enough to leave the hospital where she was arrested last week, she and her doctors agree.
Arroyo lawyer Jose Flaminiano told a court on Friday he was withdrawing his motion for a hospital arrest in favour of house arrest. Earlier, he had resisted efforts to have doctors testify about Arroyo`s condition.
Arroyo is "fit to be released as outpatient”, her physician Dr Mario Ver testified on Friday.
Arroyo has had three surgeries on her cervical spine, and she argued before her arrest that she needed to travel abroad for an urgent bone treatment that she claimed was unavailable in the Philippines.
The government refused to let her go this month, even after the Supreme Court ruled in her favour. She wore a head and neck brace as she was turned away from the Manila airport.
Arroyo successor President Benigno Aquino III has said the government wouldn`t object to house arrest and wants the former leader treated with respect.
Arroyo, who left office last year, is charged with ordering the rigging of 2007 congressional polls, which she denies. If convicted, she faces life imprisonment.
Aquino promised to uproot corruption in the Philippines and says he wants to start with Arroyo, accusing her of proliferating a culture of graft and eroding public trust in government.
In a police medical report leaked to Friday`s Philippine Daily Inquirer, medical section head of the Philippine National Police National Capital Region Hermenegilda Salangad was quoted as saying that Arroyo`s medical status "has significantly improved except for the complaints of pain in low back, left knee, weakness of both feet and weak neck."
Judge Jesus Mupas of the Pasay Regional Trial Court earlier ordered Arroyo`s doctors at Manila`s St Luke`s Medical Centre to testify about her condition. Flaminiano objected, citing doctor-patient confidentiality and the fact she was no longer seeking a hospital stay, which the court had previously approved on humanitarian grounds and because of Arroyo`s stature.
The Commission on Elections, an independent body that filed the charges against Arroyo, asked to be given three days before responding to Arroyo`s motion for house arrest.
In the meantime, commission lawyer Juana Valesa wants Arroyo to be transferred to a government hospital. Flaminiano objected, saying she should stay in remain in the private hospital where she has been treated until the court decides whether to allow house arrest.