Arroyo arrives at VMMC

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Friday, December 9, 2011


MANILA (4th update, 5:01 p.m.) -- After a nine-hour delay, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has finally arrived at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) by land.

Arroyo's seven-vehicle convoy left St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig City at past 3 p.m. Friday, minutes after a court sheriff arrived and broke the impasse on the mode of the transfer.

It took less than an hour for the convoy to reach the VMMC. The former president's convoy reached the hospital around 4:15 p.m.

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The former president's vehicle entered through the hospital's second gate, away from view of the anti-Arroyo protesters.

As soon as she arrived the VMMC onboard a white mini-van, Arroyo was whisked away by hospital staff into a presidential suite, which will serve as her temporary detention cell.

Rodelio Buenviaje, sheriff of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court branch 112 that handles the election fraud case of Arroyo, said the former leader was not handcuffed during the transfer out of respect of her position as a member of the House of Representatives.

MANILA. Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo poses in her hospital suite at St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig, Friday. Arroyo is charged with electoral sabotage and was transferred to a government hospital upon order of the court for a hospital arrest. (AP)

He said Arroyo stayed at the receiving room upon her entry at the newly refurbished presidential suite of the VMMC.

The Philippine National Police earlier insisted that Arroyo should be transferred to VMMC through a chopper, citing security nightmare if the transfer is done by land.

Arroyo's camp, however, said the former president has a fundamental objection travelling by chopper because she has been twice traumatized by chopper crash when she was still president.

Her lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said it was not safe for a chopper to fly on an inclement weather. Heavy rains pounded Metro Manila earlier Friday due to a low pressure area west of Palawan.

Elena Bautista Horn, the former President's spokesperson, said Arroyo was prepared to leave the Taguig hospital at 6 a.m. but she changed her mind following government’s insistence that she be airlifted to Quezon City.

Security was tight on roads leading to VMMC during the transfer.

The 64-year-old former leader was detained at the luxurious hospital in Taguig for three weeks, since the Commission on Elections charged her with electoral sabotage, in connection with the 2007 midterm elections.

The VMMC is being run by the government under the Department of National Defense. The hospital once served as a detention cell Arroyo predecessor, Joseph Estrada, during her plunder trial.

Arroyo has been diagnosed with hypoparathyroidism and mineral bone disorder after undergoing three cervical spine surgeries in October at the Taguig hospital. (Sunnex)

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