Philippine Supreme Court allows ex-president Arroyo to travel despite pending charges

Philippine Supreme Court allows ex-president Arroyo to travel despite pending charges

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[JURIST] The Philippine Supreme Court [official website] issued a temporary restraining order [PDF] Tuesday allowing former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to leave the country despite accusations of corruption and electoral fraud. 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, for a bone ailment, while government officials argued treatment is available in the Philippines and are concerned this is an attempt to flea the country. The opinion created three conditions that must be met in order for Arroyo to travel: a cash bond of two million pesos; appointment of a legal representative who will receive legal notices on behalf of Arroyo and her husband during their absence; and Arroyo is to notify the nearest Philippine consulate of their location at all times. Arroyo and her husband attempted to leave the country Tuesday after posting bond, but the government refused to allow them transit until they received an official copy of the order. A spokesperson for the government stated it plans to appeal the ruling. Oral arguments are set for November 22.

Arroyo was president of the Philippines from 2001-2010. She left after the Philippine Department of Justice (PDOJ) [official website] allegations and has denied any wrongdoing. Arroyo was elected to the House of Representatives [official website] 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. She was accused in 2007 of tampering with the congressional election results and illegally using governmental money in 2004 for her presidential campaign.