Friday, November 18, 2011

Philippines charges Arroyo with election fraud

The Philippine Commission on Elections approved fraud charges Friday against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and several other former officials, state media reported.

Arroyo is charged in connection with the alleged manipulation of results during 2007 Senate elections, according to the Philippines News Agency.

The former president has denied any wrongdoing.

Arroyo was stopped from leaving the country Tuesday as she was trying to board a plane at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport, hours after the country's Supreme Court overruled government-imposed restrictions on her travels. The Supreme Court again Friday rejected the government's travel ban, saying she was free to leave as long as she posted a bond and met other requirements, said Jose Midas Marquez, a court spokesman
Arroyo was reportedly boarding the flight to seek medical treatment abroad for her bone disease diagnosed earlier this year, following three unsuccessful spinal operations in the Philippines. She arrived at the airport in an ambulance and was transported to the departure gate in a wheelchair while wearing a neck brace.

Arroyo's lawyer, Raul Lambino, said the former first couple was "subjected to indignity and embarrassment at the airport," calling the government's defiance of the Supreme Court order "abhorrent and in violation of the rights of the individual guaranteed by the (Philippine's) constitution and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

But presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda described the situation as "all high drama," according to media reports. "They (the Arroyos) want the public to sympathize with them," he added.

He said that while the Arroyo couple would be treated with dignity, the government would be "firm in our decision not to allow them to leave the country." Arroyo's husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, is also accused of corruption.

The Supreme Court, which is mostly staffed by judges hired under Arroyo, defied current President Benigno Aquino's state mandate of investigating allegations of corruption during Arroyo's 2001-2010 presidential term.

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