Philippines ex-president charged with corruption, election fraud

[JURIST] Philippine authorities formally charged former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] with electoral sabotage Saturday, a day after she was arrested on a warrant [text] issued for charges of corruption and election fraud that occurred during her time as president. The Philippine Commission on Elections [official website] approved fraud charges against Arroyo Friday and she was arrested in her hospital room [JURIST report], in which she was being treated for a bone ailment and remains under police guard. Arroyo was previously unable to seek medical care outside of the Philippines because of travel restrictions in connection with her charges, but earlier this week the Philippine Supreme Court [official website] issued a temporary restraining order [JURIST report] allowing her to leave the country despite the accusations. The court ruled 8-5 against the 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 that local treatment is available and her travel is really an attempt to flee the country. After the 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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