MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - The transfer of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to a Quezon City hospital has been delayed after the Arroyo camp disagreed with police that the former president be airlifted to the hospital.
Elena Bautista-Horn, Arroyo's spokeswoman, said the former president insists on traveling by land to Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) because she is afraid of riding a helicopter in bad weather. She said the former president was involved in 2 helicopter crashes in the past.
"Kahit mag taxi na lang kami kung yun ang problema. Hindi na kailangan mag-chopper," she told reporters.
She also noted that the Arroyo camp had talked to the Philippine National Police about the transfer and there was no mention of Arroyo being airlifted.
"We don't need the fanfare. It's only about 20 kilometers away. We don't have to wait for the anti-Gloria rallyists. That is why we wanted to travel at 6 a.m. because we didn't want any people on the streets," she said.
Horn said she cannot understand why the PNP would cite security reasons for insisting on Arroyo's trip to VMMC via helicopter. She said a convoy that acted as decoy was not attacked on the way to VMMC.
She also said Arroyo could be placed in a bulletproof car so she would remain safe.
Sheriff Rodelio Buenviaje of the Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC), meanwhile, said it is the PNP that must decide on the mode of transport for Arroyo's transfer since she is under its protection.
For his part, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo said it does not matter how Arroyo is brought to VMMC as long as the transfer is done today. He said the heavy rains would make land or air transfer difficult.
He denied that the government is just waiting for anti-Arroyo protesters to gather at the hospital before she is brought there.
Mrs. Arroyo is under hospital arrest due to pending electoral sabotage charges filed against her by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Judge Jesus Mupas of Pasay RTC branch 11 earlier ordered Arroyo's transfer from St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig to VMMC, saying the government must have custody of the former president.
The government has prepared the presidential suite at the VMMC for Mrs. Arroyo. It is the same room used by former President Joseph Estrada after he was arrested on plunder charges in 2001.