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Philippines high court strikes down Arroyo government gag order

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of the Philippines [official website] Thursday ruled [opinion text] unconstitutional a 2005 executive order [text] from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo [official website; JURIST news archive] which prevented government officials from being questioned in investigations against her regarding vote-rigging and election fraud [JURIST report] in 2004. Arroyo escaped attempts to impeach her [JURIST report] last September and implemented the order when two military officers answered questions in an investigation of the alleged fraud conducted by the country's Senate. The 15-panel high court unanimously ruled that Arroyo's order was unconstitutional due to a specific list of officials whom she would not allow to testify before Congress.

A spokesman for Arroyo said her government accepted the court's decision, but expressed the hope that opposition leaders would not use it to excessively promote an agenda against the president. The Philippines Supreme Court is expected to rule next week on another of Arroyo's orders - the week-long state of emergency [Proclamation 1017 text; JURIST report] that she implemented in February after the military said they uncovered an alleged coup plot against her. Reuters has more. The Manila Times has local coverage.

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