MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has decided to bar former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from seeking medical treatment abroad, a decision that she said was supported by no less than President Benigno Aquino III.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte confirmed, saying: "We fully support the decision of Secretary Leila de Lima for the aforementioned reasons."
In a press conference, de Lima said the submissions and requests forwarded to her by the camp of Arroyo “puts to suspicion” that her illness is life-threatening.
Arroyo is seeking medical treatment in different countries abroad due to hypoparathyroidism.
“My order is a denial of her request for an [allow departure order]…One of the principal reasons, I’m not convinced of any exceptional justification for us to grant her request,” she said.
to read the resolution.
This was already supported by a recent visit of Health Secretary Enrique Ona to Arroyo. “What is clear in that report is that, yes, she underwent operations that were life-threatening, but she has recuperated fairly well,” she said.
Based on assessments by Ona, Arroyo’s health-condition is not life-threatening or “will not cause irreparable injury [if we don’t allow].”
She also noted that while Arroyo has submitted undertakings that she will come back after her medical treatments, the countries she included in her request do not have extradition treaties.
She also noted discrepancies in the list of countries where Arroyo needs to go to.
She cited anew the case of Ramona Revilla, who hastily left for Turkey after being linked to the killing of her brother Ramgen.
“There is a gaping gap between the proceedings prior to the issuance of a warrant of arrest and the formal court proceedings,” she noted. She said there is a need for the government to already come in.
“We can’t just allow respondents to flee beyond our reach,” she said.
De Lima also took note of the petition filed today by the Arroyo lawyers, seeking to quash her watch list orders.
“That filing definitely does not bar me from issuing this decision,” she said.
She noted the Constitution indeed makes sure that a person’s right to travel is not restricted, but “this is not absolute.”
She said “the interest of the nation should not be derailed [in favor of the right of one].”