MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Pia Cayetano called on the Aquino administration yesterday to show compassion to Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by reconsidering its reported plan to move her from a government hospital to an ordinary detention facility.
“That’s politically dangerous,” Enrile said of the reported plan.
“That triggered the fall of the regime of President Marcos because somebody had died. Evelio Javier died during the snap elections, and Marcos lost in the snap elections. It’s a sensitive issue,” Enrile said in Filipino in a radio interview.
He was referring to the former Antique governor – an anti-Marcos politician – who was gunned down at the height of the canvassing of votes in the Feb. 7 snap elections.
In her rare public appearances, Arroyo was in a wheelchair and had a neck brace. She is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.
Enrile said Arroyo’s condition remains critical. “I heard she can’t eat anymore and she’s only taking liquid and that doctors are avoiding her. I think if something happens to her, it’s going to be a big issue,” he said.
Enrile noted that even Marcos had allowed the President’s father and namesake to undergo heart surgery in the United States. Enrile was Marcos’ defense minister.
“I’m not saying that we treat Mrs. Arroyo exactly the same way, but we really need to consider her poor health. You know, Filipinos would always sympathize with the dead,” he said.
For her part, Cayetano noted that former leaders accused of crimes are still entitled to courtesies while on trial. She cited the case of ousted President Joseph Estrada who was freed from house arrest after being pardoned by Arroyo.
“In the past, they have always extended courtesies to past presidents and even senior officials, especially since the reasons for the supposed urgency for departure were health reasons,” Cayetano said.
“She should be put in a place where it is comfortable and accessible to immediately address her health concerns,” she said. “I leave it up to the administration to make the best decision on this.”
Cayetano added, “Normally, they extend courtesies. Let’s see how they handle it.
“I am imagining that they would be extending these kind of courtesies and making such arrangements. If you look at our presidents, look at President Erap,” she said.