Ex-president Arroyo stopped from leaving Philippines

The Philippine govt blocked former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from leaving the country.

Manila: The Philippine government blocked
former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband from
leaving the country today and said it will appeal a Supreme
Court order that allowed them to travel abroad for medical
treatment.

Accompanied by her husband and son, Arroyo arrived at the
Manila airport in an ambulance and was wheeled into a
departure hall wearing a face mask and a neck brace.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the former
first couple, being investigated for alleged corruption and
electoral cheating, would be treated with dignity but "we will
be firm in our decision not to allow them to leave the
country."
After about two hours, Arroyo lawyer Raul Lambino said the
officials had prevented the former president from leaving.

The government`s refusal to comply with the Supreme Court
order put the Aquino administration on a collision course not
only with the Arroyos and their allies but also with the
highest court.

Aquino last week refused to let Arroyo travel, saying she
might never return because of the corruption investigation and
the formal charges he expected would be filed against her by
the end of the year.
But the justices voted 8-5 today to issue a temporary
restraining order allowing Arroyo to seek treatment for a bone
ailment, court spokesman Midas Marquez said.

"They are free to exercise their constitutional rights,"
Marquez said, adding that the government could be cited for
contempt.

He said the Arroyos complied with court conditions for
travel by posting a bond of 2 million pesos (USD 46,000) and
appointing legal representatives to receive any court
summonses. They were also ordered to report to Philippine
embassies or consulates in countries they visit.

Aquino has promised to uproot corruption by prosecuting
former officials suspected of high-level graft.

Arroyo, now a member of Congress, is under investigation
by the Justice Department on allegations of plunder and
election sabotage during her 2001-2010 presidency. She has
denied any wrongdoing.

The government cited her possible flight from justice
because the countries she said she wanted to visit have no
extradition treaties with the Philippines. They include
Austria, Spain, Singapore and Germany.

Bureau Report

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