Arroyo ready for jail—spokesman

pinas balita: Arroyo ready for jail—spokesman
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MANILA, Philippines—As lawyers tangle over where to detain her, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has reckoned with the possibility of suffering the fate of deposed President Joseph Estrada, who was initially detained in a government facility while on trial for plunder, and is prepared for it — or so says her lawyer-spokesman.
The Pampanga lawmaker, facing charges of electoral sabotage in the Pasay Regional Trial Court, has moved for house arrest, dropping an earlier petition for  hospital arrest in her suite at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City.

Her lawyer Raul Lambino, however, conceded that the odds were now stacked against the option of house arrest after government prosecutors strongly opposed this in court.
And so, the possibility of her detention at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center in Quezon City, or at the Southern Police District headquarters in Taguig, the two venues proposed by the government, loom larger.
“She could suffer the same treatment that was given to Erap, that is, to be detained in a government facility or hospital,” Lambino said in a telephone interview. “We are ready for that. It could happen.’’
“As she said: `We accorded Erap a resort arrest, the best resort that he has. If P-noy (President Aquino) can’t give us the same courtesy, so be it.’ She’s spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally prepared for all the hardships she’s going to face and she’s now facing. I don’t know if her physical body can take all this,” he added.
While being tried for plunder, Estrada was initially detained at a military training facility in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. He was then moved to the Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, and moved again to a military facility in Tanay, Rizal. He was later transferred to his rest house nearby where he remained under house arrest until his conviction and subsequent pardon by Arroyo.
Lambino, who also serves as Arroyo’s legal spokesperson, conceded that the government prosecutors’ opposition has made it difficult for her motion for house arrest.
“It would be very difficult for us to get a house arrest because the government has changed its position. It was an offer coming from the government. We were confident it will not object and renege on its promise. Now they’re objecting,’’ he said.
Had the government not objected, it would have been easier for Judge Jesus Mupas to have ruled on the defense motion, he added.
Both prosecution and defense panels are to formalize their positions on Tuesday, according to Lambino.
“GMA is not asking for a paradise resort…. Whatever the court decides, we’re going to respect it. GMA is ready to face all the difficulties,’’ he said.
Lead Comelec prosecutor Ma. Juan Valeza has moved that Arroyo be transferred to any government detention facility, including the SPD headquarters in Taguig, after her camp declared she was “medically fit” to leave the hospital.
Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo also broached the AFP Medical Center as a possible detention place for the 64-year-old Arroyo.
Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel, had attempted to fly to Singapore on November 15 ostensibly to seek medical treatment for her after securing a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court against travel restrictions imposed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
But they were barred from leaving by immigration officers on orders of De Lima, who argued that the watchlist was still in effect since she had not received an official copy of the TRO at the time.
She was subsequently charged with electoral sabotage along with Andal Ampatuan Sr. and Lintang Bedol, former Maguindanao governor and election supervisor, respectively, on the recommendation of a joint DOJ-Comelec panel that looked into alleged fraud in the 2007 senatorial elections in parts of Mindanao.
Lambino also dismissed statements that Arroyo’s main contention that she needed urgent medical treatment abroad had been shattered by the defense admission that she was “medically fit’’ to leave the hospital and its motion for her to be placed under house arrest.
He said Arroyo was “medically fit’’ to stay home before she and her husband were blocked at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and had to be brought to the hospital again because of the stressful situation.
“The urgency of being treated abroad is always there. The doctors in the Philippines have been giving out these medications to avert the possibility of different complications for immediate and speedy recovery, which is not happening. She’s been stronger compared with when she was in the hospital two months ago.… Of course, they can always prescribe a medicine. But the issue is, is that the right medicine?’’ he said.
Lambino said he was not aware that Arroyo’s lawyers had been harassing her doctors at St. Luke’s Medical Center.
With the case that she’s facing and the string of other cases that the government has vowed to throw at her, is Arroyo done as a lawmaker?
Lambino said: “She’s innocent of the charges. She will remain as a congressman until she finishes her term. She’s not going to be a coward and surrender the right that she has over the fabricated lies. She’s going to face all this and clear her name. The court will eventually come out with the truth.’’


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