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Arrest Warrant Issued for Former Philippine President Arroyo

Arrest Warrant Issued for Former Philippine President Arroyo
Gloria Arroyo, former president of the Philippines. Photographer: Michael Reynolds/Bloomberg

An arrest warrant was issued to former Philippine President Gloria Arroyo at a government hospital after a court charged her with misappropriating funds from a charity.

Arroyo was admitted to the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City suffering from dehydration and a numb hand, ABS-CBN reported yesterday. An anti-graft court ordered Arroyo’s arrest on Oct. 3 on charges she diverted 366 million pesos ($8.82 million) for personal gain.

A successful prosecution may bolster what President Benigno Aquino says is his campaign to combat corruption. Arroyo spent eight months under hospital arrest on charges of election fraud before being freed in July because of insufficient evidence, and faces additional allegations of taking gifts in relation to a telecommunications deal in 2007.

“This will have positive implications for Philippine President Benigno Aquino because it shows his resolve to pursue cases against his predecessor,” Earl Parreno, an analyst at the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform in Manila, said by phone. “Arroyo’s arrest will make her supporters angry, but this won’t matter much to Aquino’s popularity.”

Sandiganbayan First Division Presiding Justice Efren de la Cruz issued a warrant for the arrest of Arroyo and former officials of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office on the charge of plunder, according to a copy of the order. Plunder is a non-bailable offense that involves pocketing at least 50 million pesos of public funds.

The court rejected a motion from Arroyo’s lawyer seeking to have the case dismissed, according to a copy of the order.

Neck Brace

The ex-president, who wears a neck brace because of a bone disease, checked into the hospital before 7 a.m. yesterday, ABS-CBN said, citing hospital director Nona Legaspi. Arroyo showed signs of dehydration, according to the report.

“Policemen are guarding her there,” Chief Superintendent Genereso Cerbo, a police spokesman, said by phone.

Arroyo, who’s seeking a second term as a representative of Pampanga province, has accused her successor of pursuing a political vendetta. Aquino, who campaigned on an anti-corruption ticket, has an approval rating of 78 percent after two years in office, according to a survey conducted by Pulse Asia from Aug. 31 to Sept. 7.

Arroyo led the indictment, arrest and imprisonment of her predecessor, Joseph Estrada. Estrada spent six years under arrest after he fell from power and before he was convicted of corruption and sentenced to life in jail in September 2007. Arroyo pardoned him a month later.

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