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Philippines

Philippine court orders arrest of hospitalised former president Arroyo

Reuters

A Philippine judge on Friday ordered the arrest of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on charges of conspiring with a notorious warlord to rig the country’s 2007 election. Arroyo may be placed under arrest in hospital, where she is reported to be suffering a rare bone disease, government officials said.

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Earlier in the week a government order stopped Arroyo leaving the country when she arrived at Manila airport in a neck brace, claiming that she needed treatment abroad.

Her aides on Friday said that she was booked on a flight to Singapore at 5 pm local time but Supreme Court spokesperson Midas Marquez said that she could not leave the country.

When he was elected, current President Benigno Aquino promised to bring Arroyo to book on the many accusations of corruption and vote-rigging during her presidency.

The charge of “electoral sabotage” could lead to life in prison.

Arroyo’s aides say that she is being treated for a rare bone disease that has led to three spine operations.

The election commission has accused Arroyo of ordering large-scale tampering in the southern province of Maguindanao, where the Ampatuan family held political sway.

Warrants were also issued for former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr and the province’s elections supervisor Lintang Bedol.

They are both already in custody, with Ampatuan Sr accused of responsibility for the massacre of 57 people in 2009.

Arroyo’s lawyer, Raul Lambino, accused the court of “violating the basic rule of due process”, claiming that the decision had been “railroaded from the start”.

Left-wing rights groups accuse Arroyo of endorsing the extrajudicial killing of over 1,200 people and 206 “forced disappearances” in a counter-insurgency programme aimed at combating the communist New People’s Army, one of several guerrilla groups active in the country.

They accused her of trying to flee justice this week.

“Is she asserting her human rights now? We ask, how about the rights of the many victims of killings, torture and enforced disappearances who were never given justice?” asked Cristina Guevarra of victims’ group Hustisya.

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