Former president under immigration watch list

Posted on August 10, 2011

THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) has issued an order placing former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd district) under the immigration watch list.

Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima issued Watchlist Order 422 late yesterday in relation to three plunder cases pending against the former president at the Justice department.

"Accordingly, the Commissioner of Immigration, Manila, is hereby ordered to include in the Bureau of Immigration’s watch list the name of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo," the order read.

The order for Mrs. Arroyo is valid for 60 days. This require her to seek prior permission on foreign trips.

Sought for comment, Raul L. Lambino, Mrs. Arroyo’s counsel, said the order was part of the administration’s campaign to put the Arroyos in a bad light.

"We’ve heard about such a plan of Malacañang a long time ago in order to put the Arroyos in a shameful situation and in a bad light for public consumption," he said in a text message to media.

"It’s another political stunt to cover the incompetence and dismal performance of Malacañang and to divert public attention from closely scrutinizing the more massive anomalies committed by close associates of PNoy," he added, referring to President Benigno S. C. Aquino III.

Mrs. Arroyo is facing three charges at the DoJ, namely:

• the P72-million case filed by tax whistle-blower Danilo Lihaylihay on the alleged anomalous sale of the old Iloilo airport for P1.2 billion to Megaworld Corp. in 2007;

• alleged misuse of over half-a-billion pesos from the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration migrant worker fund in 2003 and 2004; and

• misappropriation of some P2.32 billion meant for farm projects for her and her allies’ campaign in the 2004 elections.

Mrs. Arroyo is also facing two other plunder charges at the Office of the Ombudsman.

The watch list order on Mrs. Arroyo follows an earlier similar issuance against her husband, former first gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" T. Arroyo, in connection with the questionable purchase of helicopters by the police.

The order was issued shortly after Mr. Arroyo left for Hong Kong to undergo a heart checkup. He returned to the country on Monday. -- NRM and NMG

Emergency surgery set

FORMER PRESIDENT now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd district) will undergo an emergency surgery today to correct problems from her recent spine operation, according to a medical bulletin released late yesterday.

The "revision" surgery has been scheduled at 7 a.m. at the St. Luke’s Medical Center-Global City in Taguig City, Mrs. Arroyo’s doctor, Juliet Gopez-Cervantes, said in the bulletin.

Ms. Cervantes said the procedure is expected to be more difficult as it will correct a dislodged bone implant from the first operation to address a pinched nerve.

The cause of implant displacement is still "under investigation," she said, given that Mrs. Arroyo has been following recovery procedure.

The former president was scheduled for checkup yesterday after a five-hour surgery on July 29 to address a progressively debilitating ailment. She was discharged on Friday.

On Sunday, however, Mrs. Arroyo started to feel pain on her upper right arm "that’s no longer responsive to paracetamol," Ms. Cervantes said.

"There was progression on the pain and [yesterday] morning the pain became bilateral, meaning both her left and right arms," she added.

Mrs. Arroyo was rushed to the hospital on July 25 after an afternoon sortie in her home province, skipping the joint session of Congress that heard the State of the Nation Address. She attended the opening session in the morning. -- Noemi M. Gonzales