Philippines president assures Arroyo of due process

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - It only just began.
Fresh from his trip to Indonesia, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Saturday night rallied the public behind his administration's effort to prosecute former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo for alleged electoral sabotage, while promising to accord her due process.
"She will have an equal opportunity to defend herself in court because that is the right of every Filipino," he said in Filipino in his arrival statement at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
"That is the process that a vendor or driver, teacher or garbage collector, cop or clerk, from the highest position down to the ordinary person, should all go through-taking no sides, simply focused on the search for truth and making the guilty accountable."
The President, who said he was updated on events leading to Arroyo's arrest even while he was attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations forum in Bali, Indonesia, expressed confidence that the Filipino people were behind his effort to prosecute those behind alleged election fraud in the past.
"This is just the start of the process. And it is very good to know that even from the start, even while I was outside the country, you are all behind me, especially on this issue," he said.
"I know that I am not alone. As I think about your welfare, you continue to give me strength."
Aquino said the prosecution of Arroyo was the result of the "reform I have laid out to combat corruption."
"The core principle of this reform program is this-the guilty should be made accountable because if not, it would be like we have kept the door open for anyone who would want to abuse our people."
The President urged his supporters to remain committed to his effort and "not to waver in our stand."
"We are all working for a new Philippines, one where there is equality, where whoever does wrong, whatever his status in life may be, is punished, a country where justice rules," he said.
Binay leads welcomers
The President's chartered plane arrived at 9:45 p.m. He was welcomed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., and other members of his Cabinet, including Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who had barred Arroyo from leaving the country despite a temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court.

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