MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Panfilo Lacson suggested to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima a “Solomonic” solution to speedily address former President Gloria Arroyo’s request to seek medical treatment abroad.
Lacson said that while Arroyo should be allowed to seek the best medical treatment for her spine and neck problems, she should also do her part to make sure the proceedings in the charges against her are not delayed by her absence.
“My unsolicited advice to Justice Secretary [Leila] de Lima is to do a King Solomon: Allow former President Arroyo to leave for treatment abroad but only after she has submitted her counteraffidavit on the electoral sabotage and plunder case that she is being accused of, so as not to derail the preliminary investigations being conducted by the DOJ prosecutors,” Lacson said.
“This way, her absence cannot delay the filing of information in court and the subsequent issuance of warrants of arrest against her by the court in case probable cause is established,” he added.
Presently, the DOJ is still studying a request by Arroyo to seek medical treatment abroad. She faces possible charges, including electoral fraud in the 2007 elections.
Earlier reports indicated Arroyo had appealed that she be allowed to seek medical treatment abroad on the promise that she would return.
She had obtained permission from the House of Representatives to travel to Singapore, Spain, Germany, Italy and the United States from October 22 to December.
She plans to seek treatment for hypoparathyroidism, a condition caused by lack of calcium production in the body, which has aggravated her neck and spine problems.
But on Friday, de Lima said Arroyo will have to spend All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days in the Philippines as the Department of Justice is not likely to decide on her request until this coming week.
A teachers party-list group, meanwhile, asked Malacañang to prevent Arroyo from seeking medical treatment abroad.
At the same time, Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino Rep. JV Ejercito of San Juan City said Arroyo should not be allowed to go out of the country, especially in countries where the Philippines does not have an extradition treaty.
“I fear that GMA will no longer come back if she pushes through with the plan to seek medical treatment abroad especially in countries that we don’t have extradition treaty like Portugal for this would confirm all the rumors of her exit plan to evade justice and going to jail because of all the cases she is facing right now,” Ejercito stressed.
Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, meanwhile, said: “President Aquino should not allow Arroyo to travel. The very itinerary that she has submitted, which will take her through Singapore, Spain, Germany, Italy and the United States in a monthlong trip casts a doubt on her alleged purpose of seeking medical treatment.”
“While we respect her right to seek life-saving medical treatment abroad, this has to be balanced with our ongoing quest for justice and accountability. Is there really an urgent medical necessity if she appears to be fit enough to go on a virtual round-the-world tour?” Tinio asked.
He added that such a travel schedule would be taxing even for a healthy person.
“Perhaps GMA is not being entirely transparent about the purpose of this trip. Given the implausible nature of her request and the gravity of the charges against her, Malacañang would do well to deny it,” Tinio said.
Earlier, Arroyo urged the DOJ to immediately decide on the application for a permit to leave the country for medical treatment.?Arroyo’s lawyer, Raul Lambino, said they have complied with all the documentary requirements of the DOJ when they asked for an allow departure order so that Arroyo can be treated for her spine problems.
Earlier, the DOJ included the former President on the Bureau of Immigration’s watch list, a move that was described as “illegal” by Sen. Franklin Drilon, a close ally of President Aquino.
Arroyo’s husband, Jose Miguel, is also on the list.
They are facing plunder and election-sabotage complaints.