Gloria Arroyo under arrest

Posted at 11/18/11 6:51 PM

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) - Police served on Friday night the arrest warrant for former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued by a Pasay trial court judge who found probable cause against her for electoral sabotage.

The warrant was served inside her room at the St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig City where she is confined.

"Katatapos lang po namin i-serve," said Senior Superintendent James Bucayu.

Former first gentleman Jose Miguel  Arroyo, their family, and some members of the former Arroyo Cabinet were present during the serving of the arrest warrant, according to police.

The Pampanga lawmaker will not be brought out of the hospital as of Friday night because of her illness, Bucayu said. "Hindi po siya dadalhin, because of her physical condition. May sakit nga po siya."

She is now considered under the custody of the Southern Police District, he added. "Under na po siya ng Southern Police District. Nag-iwan na po kami ng guwardiya sa taas."

Policemen have been stationed outside her room and in key areas of the hospital, Bucayu said.

He said they coordinated with Arroyo's lawyer, who waived off the reading of her rights.

"Si Atty. [Jose] Flaminiano ang nag- receive ng warrant of arrest," the police official said. "Binasa sana namin ang kaniyang rights, ayaw."

Arroyo will not be brought out of the hospital and her formal booking, which includes fingerprinting, will be done at the hospital Saturday.

"Tomorrow, the booking, kasi medyo stressed pa siya. Para naman convenient para sa kaniya," Bucayu said, adding that Arroyo will be detained at the SPD when she is well enough to leave the hospital.

"Depende po sa sasabihin ng kaniyang doctor, kung puwede na siyang... gumaling na siya at puwede na siyang maglakad. Pero ngayon hindi pa possible," he said.

Bucayu said that the former President's family may just provide a photo for her mugshot.

"Inne-expect naman niya yata na a warrant of arrest will be issued against her. Hindi naman siya malungkot. Okay naman siya," he added.

Electoral sabotage

Arroyo, former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., and former election supervisor Lintang Bedol were charged with electoral sabotage by the Commission Elections (Comelec) on Friday morning.

It is a nonbailable offense under Philippine law.

Pasay RTC 112 Judge Jesus Mupas issued the arrest warrants for the trio later in the day.

Police also served in Bicutan the arrest warrant against Ampatuan and on Bedol in Camp Crame.

Arroyo has cancelled her plans to travel to Singapore for a doctor's appointment that was set on Saturday.

Ampatuan is detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in connection with the Maguindanao massacre. Bedol is also under detention.

In a press conference in Malacañang, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that with the issuance of the arrest warrant, the issue of the Supreme Court's temporary restraining order (TRO) allowing the Arroyos to leave in the country "has become moot and academic."

Arroyo's camp, however, asked the Pasay RTC to suspend its proceedings on the electoral sabotage case filed against her, saying the Sandiganbayan, and not the lower court, should have jurisdiction over the case.

The motion filed by her lawyers said the anti-graft court, Sandiganbayan, should have jurisdiction over the case because Arroyo was a public official when the alleged crimes were committed.

Arroyo rues government treatment

Arroyo's legal spokesman, Raul Lambino, told Bandila that he was the one who relayed to the former President that she had an arrest warrant.

"Siya'y nakahiga at nagpapahinga, dahil mahina ang kaniyang katawan at naka-dextrose siya. Sinabi ko kaagad sa kaniya na 'Ma'am, meron na ho talagang confirmed, meron nang warrant of arrest at patungo na rito iyung arresting officers.' This was about 4 o'clock in the afternoon," he said.

"Sinabi niya sa akin, 'Well, what can we do, Raul? This is the way the government would like to treat us. So we'll face the judges,'" Lambino added.

He said Arroyo remained in poor health Friday. "Malungkot siya at fluctuating iyung blood pressure niya kanina. Noong umalis ako ng St. Lukes, around 9:30 (pm), medyo kalmado na rin siya. Nakita ko eh medyo sumubo ng kaunting pagkain. At masaya na rin ako nang makita ko siyang kumain bago ako pumunta rito."

"Naka-brace siya. Mas lalo siyang pumayat. Siyempre sa stress, hindi siya nakakatulog at nakakakain. Ang nandodoon lang si Congressman Dato at si former first gentleman Mike. Mikey left laft night. Si Luli is already out of the country, alam ko," he added.

Lambino said Arroyo decided to call off their scheduled flight Friday to Singapore because she is still ill. "The flight I think, was cancelled earlier, dahil sa kalagayan niya. Around 2 pm, sinabi niya that I cannot leave even if I want to. Mayroon nang desisyon ang Supreme Court noon. Tinanong namin, sinabi niya, I cannot."

He said the Arroyo camp expected the government to rush the electoral sabotage charge. "We know that the government will try to ram into our throat this electoral sabotage. Ito iyung sinabi na ni Presidente Aquino around 2 months ago na mayroon nang makakasuhan sa November ng kaso na maaring 'di punder. We know already... ineexpect namin na gagawin iyan ng government."

Lambino also denied that Arroyo's camp ignored the joint Comelec and DOJ fact-finding team that looked at the allegation against the former leader. He said the team did not allow Arroyo to properly give her side. "Sa normal preliminary investigation, binibigyan ka ng panahon na pag-aralan ng charges."

He said they were only given 10 days to analyze voluminous documents.  He also asked why the fact-finding team is also behind the preliminary investigation.

Lambino said they have already filed a Supreme Court petition questioning joint panel.

He also acused the DOJ of "engaging in propaganda" regarding allegations that the Arroyos will only try to hide in other countries

 "Hindi sila makakapagtago," Lambino said, citing a statement made by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago who said government can cancel the Arroyos' passports and demand their deportation.
He added that political asylum is also dangerous because it will damage diplomatic relations between countries.

Lambino said they are still studying suggestions to have the former President placed under either a hospital or house arrest. "We are studying all options available because we have already questioned the jurisdiction of the regional trial court."

Respect for former President

De Lima, meanwhile, said President Aquino wants Arroyo treated with utmost respect.

The Palace also will not object to a hospital or house arrest for the former president.

"Hindi kami mag-oobject sa hospital arrest. Although ang desisyon po does not lie with us, does not lie with the complainant which is the Comelec, but nasa korte yan. Kelangan humingi sila," de Lima said.

"Kung gusto nila hospital arrest or house arrest, they should get the court approval. Sa panig namin, kinonsulta ko nga ang President, he's in Bali, hindi kami mag-oobject," she added. - with a report from ANC