Arroyo challenges arrest: lawyer

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Nov 19 2011 03:23 PM | Updated as of Nov 20 2011 07:10 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The lawyer for ex-Philippine president Gloria Arroyo Saturday challenged a court's jurisdiction to order her arrest on vote-rigging charges as she spent a second day under police guard in hospital.

The 64-year-old faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted by the lower court in Manila.

The court ordered her arrest on Friday after the government filed charges that she ordered the 2007 senatorial elections rigged to ensure her allies won.

Her lawyer Raul Lambino said the court will hear a motion on Monday to lift the arrest warrant on the grounds the criminal suit should have been filed elsewhere.

"We feel that there has been a violation of due process when they railroaded this case and filed the information at a wrong court," he told ABS-CBN television.

The Arroyo camp earlier suggested the case should be dealt with by a special court, called Sandiganbayan, which handles cases involving public officials.

"We have already filed our corresponding motions questioning the jurisdiction of the regional trial court," Lambino said.

"The court should not have issued a warrant of arrest."

He said the former president, who has undergone three unsuccessful spinal surgeries this year for a rare bone disease, was holding up relatively well after she was arrested at her hospital bed.

Lambino said police were scheduled to take her fingerprints and mug shot ahead of trial.

Arroyo, the country's second female president, would also be its second leader to stand trial. Her predecessor Joseph Estrada was convicted of plunder in 2007 but pardoned by Arroyo 40 days later.

Arroyo's arrest capped a tumultuous week in Philippine politics that saw the government block her from leaving the country after she arrived at Manila airport wearing a neck brace and saying she needed medical care abroad.