Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Repost From Cynthia D. Balana and Jerome Aning of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Arroyos will try to fly to Singapore Thursday

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A FASCINATOR IT’S NOT A nurse protects the head of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as she boards an ambulance to take her back to St. Luke’s Medical Center-Global City from Naia on Tuesday. LYN RILLON

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will leave Thursday for Singapore to see an endocrinologist, her spokesperson said Wednesday.

Arroyo, now a representative of Pampanga, postponed her trip planned for Wednesday because her “elevated” blood pressure, purportedly brought about by the refusal of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to allow her and her party to leave for abroad on Tuesday night, “has not normalized yet up to this time,” Elena Bautista-Horn said.

According to Horn, Arroyo and her party will fly out Thursday for a scheduled checkup at 12:15 p.m. with an endocrinologist in Singapore.

She said Arroyo would be accompanied by her husband, Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, a nurse, a close-in aide, and two members of the couple’s respective staffs.

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said the Arroyos had earlier booked passage on Singapore Airlines Flight SQ 919, which departed at 5:10 p.m. Wednesday.

But the airline said the reservations were voided when the couple failed to show up an hour before the scheduled flight, according to MIAA public affairs office chief Connie Bungag.

If the Arroyos intend to be in Singapore by noon Thursday, they should be in any of these flights: Philippine Airlines’ PR 511, which is to leave at around 6 a.m.; Tiger Airways’ TR 2729, 6:20 a.m.; Cebu Pacific’s 5J-801, 6:25 a.m.; and Singapore Airlines’ SQ 915, 8:10 a.m.

Glandular ailment

Horn said the meeting with the doctor was for an evaluation of Arroyo’s disease of the glands. She said the latter did not like taking too many medicines. Earlier reports said Arroyo’s medication came up to at least 25 capsules a day.

“I’m sure Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has run out of excuses. That’s Constitution 101. [On Tuesday], she said the DOJ had yet to receive the Supreme Court decision. But we’ve just learned that the department received it [Tuesday] night. So there is no more reason for her not to allow Mrs. Arroyo to leave,” Horn told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

De Lima said on Tuesday afternoon that the Arroyos would remain on the watch list of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) because she had yet to receive a copy of the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court on the travel ban on the couple.

Horn said Arroyo was still at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City Wednesday morning because the latter felt bad after being stopped from leaving by immigration authorities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 (Naia 1).

Commenting on the government’s offer to shoulder the cost of bringing in a foreign doctor of Arroyo’s choice, Horn said the money would be better used to pay government lawyers to defend the case against her boss.

Ready for jail

Speaking at a press conference, Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. said he was ready to go to jail along with other immigration officers at the Naia if they would be charged with contempt of court for barring Arroyo from leaving the country on Tuesday night.

“I will join them in jail because this is an order of the Secretary (De Lima) given to me, which I gave to our airport supervisors and relayed to our immigration officers. All of us are in this because there is a pyramid organization in BI. If they say we will be imprisoned for a few months, we will join them. But I pity our immigration officers who were just doing their jobs,” he said.

David said he was in the office of MIAA General Manager Angel Honrado when the Arroyos arrived at the airport.

The immigration commissioner said four persons who were to accompany the Arroyos were able to board the Dragon Air aircraft but that they deplaned after learning that the couple were not allowed to leave.

David said De Lima’s verbal and written orders to enforce the watch-list order (WLO) were simple.

“I’m from the military. The instructions to me by the person above me is very easy [to obey],” he said. “It was an instruction of our superior that we believed is a lawful order. I told the airport supervisor that in order for the WLO to be lifted, there should be a directive from the DOJ to me. So [Arroyo’s] passport was not stamped and she could not take her flight.”

Sympathy for BI officers

David said a written court order instructing the immigration bureau to remove the Arroyos from the watch list was needed before the couple would be allowed to leave.

“That is why I ordered the immigration officers not to allow them to leave. If there’s an existing WLO, only [De Lima] can lift it,” he said.

According to David, the Arroyos and their entourage brought numerous copies of the TRO, and they were advised to take these to the justice department or the BI for processing.

David said that even if the Arroyos were allowed into the airport, they would not be allowed to leave because their passports would not be stamped.

“The passport was given to one immigration officer who gave it to the supervisor. It was passed around. There was no delaying tactic. Why would there be a delaying tactic when their passports won’t be stamped in the first place because of the WLO? You can’t board the plane without the stamp,” he said.

David said he thought Arroyo’s trip to the airport proved “strenuous” for her. He declined to comment on criticisms that the couple were just trying to gain public sympathy.

“My sympathy is with our immigration officers because they were just doing their jobs. We didn’t block anyone,” he said.

Don’t argue

David said he told the immigration officers at the airport not to argue with Arroyo’s lawyers.

“My instruction to them is that we cannot discuss the point of law because we’re not brilliant lawyers. Even if we have a lawyer, this is not the venue to discuss the merits. They should discuss that with the DOJ,” he said.

The Arroyos were put on the watch list on October 28 in connection with their alleged involvement in the poll fraud being investigated by DOJ and the Commission on Elections.

The order is effective for 60 days unless revoked or extended by the justice department.

Reposted From Cynthia D. Balana and Jerome Aning of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Repost From Philippine Star

Arroyos will attempt again to leave today
(The Philippine Star) Updated November 16, 2011 10:05 AM Comments (34) View comments

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Former Philippine President and current member of Congress Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, center, is assisted by her aides as they leave the airport in Manila, Philippines, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011. The Philippine government blocked former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband from leaving the country on Tuesday and said it will appeal a Supreme Court order that allowed them to travel abroad for medical treatment. (AP Photo/Pat Roque)

MANILA, Philippines - Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband will attempt again to leave the country today.

Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, who represents former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, made the statement after receiving information that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has received a copy of the Supreme Court's (SC) temporary restraining order (TRO), which bars the implementation of the watchlist order issued against the Mrs. Arroyo.

"Kung ang TRO ay natanggap na ng DOJ, solicitor general at Bureau of Immigration, babalik kami sa paliparan. 'Yan po ay aming karapatan," Topacio said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.

SC spokesman Midas Marquez said during the same television interview that the TRO was received by the DOJ this morning. Reports said that the copy of the TRO was received by DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima at past 8 a.m.

Marquez, meanwhile, said that the high court will order the DOJ to explain why it did not comply with the TRO and stopped Mrs. Arroyo and her husband from leaving the country last night.

The Arroyo couple tried, but failed to board a plane bound for Hong Kong last night. The Arroyos were supposed to take a connecting flight in Hong Kong to Singapore.

Elena Bautista-Horn, spokesperson of Mrs. Arroyo, said that they have an appointment with a specialist in Singapore on November 17 (Thursday) and they wanted to arrive one day ahead of the appointment.

Horn confirmed that from Singapore, the Arroyo couple was supposed to leave for Spain, where Mrs. Arroyo will meet with a bone marrow disorder specialist.

The Arroyos were barred by immigration and airport officers from leaving the country as ordered by De Lima, who announced yesterday that the watchlist orders issued against the couple are still in effect because the high court's TRO was not yet final and executory.

Defiance, imprisonment

Marquez, meanwhile, said during the interview that the TRO was executory, adding that the order needs no "interpretation, only application."

Quoting the TRO issued by the high court yesterday, he said that "This order is effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this court."

He added: "There is no need for interpretation. It's as clear as a sunny day; only application should be done."

Marquez said that based from reports about last night's incident at the airport, it seems that there was defiance on the part of the executive department.

"There seems to be defiance. Let's see if they will defy it again," Marquez said, referring to a possible repeat of the airport scenario with the Arroyos last night.

"I'm calling executive officials, especially those who have received copies of the TRO to implement the order," he said.

He added that under the rules of the court, those who will defy the SC's order can be held in direct contempt of court and may be punished with up to six months of imprisonment or ordered to pay a fine of not more than P30,000.

The camp of Mrs. Arroyo has threatened to ask the SC today to cite De Lima and other government officials in direct contempt of court for blocking the implementation of the TRO.

They have also threatened to file a disbarment case against De Lima.

Lawyer reiterates, Arroyos will return

In announcing her order to bar the Arroyos from leaving despite the SC’s TRO, De Lima reiterated MalacaƱang’s suspicion about the real motive behind the former president’s plan to immediately leave the country.

De Lima said that she was not convinced that the requirements set by the SC for Arroyo’s travel abroad are effective guarantees that she will return to the country.

Marquez, for his part, reiterated that there are several remedies to make sure that the Arroyos will return to the country to face the electoral and plunder complaints that have been filed against them.

He said that government embassies and consulates can locate the Arroyos. He added that the government can also ask the Interpol to help in locating the couple in case they try to flee.

“Marami pa namang remedy. Cancellation of passports; puwedeng tumawag sa Interpol. The world has become so small with the internet and all these things. Hindi naman sila makakapagtago ng habambuhay,” he added.

Marquez said that the possibility of the Arroyos hiding abroad was considered during the high court’s deliberation for the issuance of the TRO yesterday. He said that majority of the justices agreed that there are several remedies to prevent the Arroyos from not returning to the country.

Topacio, for his part, said that he was sure that the Arroyos will return to the country after their medical treatment abroad.

“There is the matter of personal pride,” he said, adding that the Arroyo couple would not be able to resist not seeing their children and grandchildren, who are all staying in the country.

The lawyer even joked during the television interview that he will have his "egg" removed if the Arroyos fail to return after their medical treatment abroad.

Mrs. Arroyo is currently at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig, where she was transported to after being barred from taking her flight to Hong Kong last night.

TRO propriety questionable

De Lima, meanwhile, said in a brief talk with the media today that the TRO should be revisited and discussed during oral arguments.

"The propriety of the TRO deserves a second look," she said.

In television interviews, MalacaƱang officials said that De Lima's order to implement the watchlist order against the Arroyo couple stays until today.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that immigration officials will still bar the Arroyos from leaving if they attempt again to board a plane out of the country.

Lacierda said that the government is set to file an urgent motion for reconsideration on the SC's issuance of the TRO. He said that the government will insist in the petition for the conduct of oral arguments first before the issuance of the halt order.

In another interview, Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas said that he has ordered all airport officials to heed De Lima's order to continue the implementation of the watchlist order against the Arroyos.

Reposted From Philippine Star


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