GMA should be moved to regular jail, says Comelec chief

by Jojo Malig,

Posted at Jan 24 2012 09:59 PM | Updated as of Jan 25 2012 05:59 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should no longer stay under hospital arrest if she is already well, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said Tuesday.

In an interview with ANC Prime Time, Brillantes explained the motion filed by Comelec lawyers, who are asking the Pasay City Regional Trial Court to move Arroyo from the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) to a regular jail.

He said the motion also requires VMMC to give the current medical status of the former president.

"If they say, they come out with an official report that she is already well, then she should transfer to a regular detention cell," Brillantes said.

"When I say a regular detention cell, we are not saying she should go to the Pasay City Jail but we have already long before, reserved a place for her at the Southern Police District," he added. "Okay na iyung facilities doon."

He said it is up to the court to decide whether to have the Pampanga lawmaker transferred to a regular detention center.

"That is not our discretion anymore. When we filed the motion, it is up to the court. The court has the full discretion to determine," Brillantes said.

He added that the Comelec should not be seen as giving special treatment to Arroyo.

"The accused should be placed in a regular detention cell unless she is sick," he reiterated. "If there is such a report already that she is okay, it is our obligation that we file the necessary motion and leave it up to the court to determine if she is transferred or not."

Prosecution lawyer Jane Valeza said they have received information Arroyo is already well, and cited her reported meetings with minority lawmakers in the past few weeks.

In an interview earlier on ANC, VMMC director Dr. Nona Legaspi said Arroyo is now stable and a transfer will not likely worsen her condition.

She also confirmed that Arroyo is no longer wearing her neck brace and is not being restricted in her activities.

"She goes to mass every day. There's no actual medical condition that warrants her to really stay in bed," she said.

Legaspi added that Arroyo only needs to continue her physical therapy.

Police have placed Arroyo under arrest based on a warrant issued by a Pasay trial court .

Arroyo, former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., and former election supervisor Lintang Bedol have been charged with electoral sabotage, a non-bailable offense under Philippine law. - with ANC