MANILA, Philippines - Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is requesting the government to allow her to travel by land to Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) instead of by helicopter due to heavy rains in Metro Manila.
Laurence Arroyo, counsel of the former president, said the Arroyo camp is already talking to the Philippine National Police about the mode of transport from St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig to VMMC in Quezon City.
"The president has experienced helicopter crashes before so there is that fear in her about riding in bad weather. She has trauma especially now with the bad weather. Of course, the primary concern is the safety of the former president," he told ANC.
"Ultimately the call is with the PNP," he added.
Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, legal counsel of Arroyo’s husband Mike Arroyo, also said the former president will travel by land but declined to give the exact time of departure.
He said the former president herself requested that she be brought to VMMC by land because of the rainy weather. He said Arroyo's involvement in two chopper crashes in the past explains her fear of travelling by air.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo earlier said the former president will be transported by chopper to VMMC if weather permits. He said a helicopter is already on standby to transport her.
"Very likely if the weather permits, it will be by air. For security considerations, mas madali i-manage. Unpredictable ang traffic sa EDSA...More convenient for everyone if its by air," Robredo said. "If it's not possible, we will do by land. The deadline is today."
Robredo said the PNP has prepared both air and land transportation for Arroyo.
Arroyo will be accompanied by her husband, a private nurse and a doctor from the Philippine National Police (PNP), among others.
The former president’s convoy will be led by Chief Superintendent Miguel Laurel of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), dzMM’s Dexter Ganibe reported.
The convoy will only be limited to ten vehicles. Laurel also asked the media not to get too close to the convoy, but said they can still follow it.
Both the police and the Arroyo camp remain tight-lipped regarding the route the convoy will take going to the government hospital, citing security concerns.
Several pro-Arroyo citizens trooped to St. Luke's and VMMC hospitals to show their support for the former president.
The supporters were carrying placards showing messages of sympathy for the former president, who is facing electoral sabotage charges for her alleged involvement in the rigging of the 2007 mid-term elections.
Anti-Arroyo protesters are also expected to arrive at the VMMC later today.
Police security in and around VMMC remains high as 4 security checkpoints were set up leading to the suite where Arroyo will stay.
The first checkpoint was set up at the VMMC main gate, followed by another on the private driveway leading to the presidential suite. A third checkpoint was set up a few meters away from the building where the presidential suite is located, and the last one is at the building's front door.
Horn also revealed that Arroyo is being afforded a "three-layer" security by the police.
She, however, complained that the police want to put grills on the windows of the room where Arroyo's private cook and help will be staying.
Topacio said Arroyo’s condition is getting better after suffering from colitis.
He said once Arroyo’s condition allows her to be discharged from the hospital, their next move is to request that the former president be placed under house arrest. – reports from Dexter Ganibe and Johnson Manabat, dzMM; Zen Hernandez, Raffy Santos, Ron Gagalac, Jacque Manabat and Jeck Batallones, ABS-CBN News