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Philippines ex-president arrested on fraud, corruption charges

Philippine authorities arrested former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Friday in response to a warrant [text] issued that same day on charges of corruption and election fraud occurring during her time as president. Arroyo was arrested in her hospital room [AP report] where she was being treated for a bone ailment. She was previously unable to seek medical care outside of the Philippines because of travel restrictions in connection with her charges. However, earlier this week the Philippine Supreme Court [official website] issued [JURIST report] a temporary restraining order [text, PDF] allowing her to leave the country despite the accusations. The court ruled 8-5 against government-imposed travel restrictions that started in August. Arroyo argued that she needs to travel abroad for medical treatment, unavailable in the Philippines while government officials argued treatment is available in the Philippines and are concerned this is an attempt to flee the country. After that decision was upheld Friday, the government issued the warrant for her arrest which overrode the court's decision allowing her to travel. Arroyo continues to deny wrongdoing [AP report] and alleges that the charges reflect political persecution by the government.

On Tuesday, Arroyo and her husband attempted to leave the country after posting bond, but the government refused to allow them transit until they received an official copy of the court order. A spokesperson for the government stated it would appeal the ruling. Oral arguments were set for November 22. Arroyo was president of the Philippines from 2001-2010. She left office after the Philippine Department of Justice (PDOJ) [official website] brought allegations of corruption. Arroyo was elected to the House of Representatives last year after the Philippine Supreme Court ruled her eligible to run [JURIST report], despite protests that she had an unfair advantage. In July 2010, current President Benigno Aquino [BBC profile] signed an executive order [JURIST report] to set up a "truth commission" to investigate allegations that the outgoing administration engaged in corruption and rights violations.

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