, MANILA, Dec 1 – A Philippine court Thursday ordered ex-president Gloria Arroyo to be moved from an exclusive hospital to a military-run medical facility while waiting to go on trial for alleged vote rigging.
A judge at the Pasay City Regional Trial Court, which is hearing the case, noted that medical procedures required by Arroyo, 64, could be done at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, clerk of court Joel Pelicano said.
“Five days from today… former president Arroyo will be transferred to the Veterans Memorial Medical Center,” Pelicano told reporters.
The veterans hospital is a heavily secured facility in northern Manila where Arroyo’s safety would be assured, and competent government doctors could attend to her needs, he said.
Arroyo, who ruled the country for nearly a decade until last year, has been staying at a $1,100-a-day private hospital suite since she was arrested last month on charges of rigging senatorial elections in 2007.
Vote rigging is a non-bailable offence and if convicted, she could face life in jail. The trial could take years to complete.
Her successor, Benigno Aquino, has also vowed to charge Arroyo for other acts of corruption that she allegedly committed while in power.
Arroyo’s lawyers have insisted that she is suffering from a rare bone disorder, loss of appetite and intestinal infections that require her to stay in the private hospital and wear an elaborate neck brace.
But her doctors testified in court that she could be treated at any state-run hospital and that she was well on her way to recovery.
Arroyo’s spokeswoman, Elena Horn, said that while the decision was open for appeal, the former president would likely be transferred next week.
“We will comply and respect the decision of the court,” Horn said, but pointed out that Arroyo would continue to use all legal options open to her.
Arroyo has another motion before the court to allow her to be placed under house arrest. The court said Thursday that motion should be resolved within 10 days.