Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is set to be served a warrant of arrest today on orders of a local court hearing electoral fraud charges.
It is not known as of now whether the police will arrest Arroyo the same way as ordinary accused.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Arroyo’s lawyers have been informed of the arrest warrant.
The issuance of an arrest warrant now prevents Arroyo from flying to Singapore to supposedly seek medical treatment. She has complained before the Supreme Court over a hold departure order issued by Secretary De Lima against her and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo.
The country’s highest court recently issued a temporary restraining order against De Lima which paved the way for the prospect of Arroyo fleeing the Philippines. Many have feared she would not return and seek asylum in countries where the Philippines has no existing extradition treaties, such as Spain.
If and when Arroyo is finally arrested, it would be the first real step for Filipinos in our quest for justice after nine years of her tumultuous reign. She faces several complaints pending before the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman, ranging from electoral fraud, corruption and violations of human rights violations.
Arroyo became president on Jan. 20, 2001, when a victorious second People Power uprising ousted then-president Joseph Estrada. But contrary to her promises to be different from Estrada, Arroyo presided over a period marked by a string of corruption cases, some involving her husband and close allies.
In 2004, she reneged on a promise not to run in the elections. Arroyo beat popular actor Fernando Poe Jr. in that year’s elections where Filipinos witnessed the wanton (mis-)use of public funds and the entire government machinery to favor Arroyo. Years later, evidence of electoral fraud, including a voice tape of calls made by Arroyo herself to elections officials, surfaced.
To cover up malfeasance and blunt growing public outcry over her corrupt government, Arroyo approved an all-out war, resulting the deaths of over 1,000 unarmed, civilian activists. The United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions found in a country investigation that the murders were part of a military operation-plan under then-Commander-in-Chief Arroyo.
Arroyo’s partymates, who dominated the House of Representatives during her entire reign, voted against repeated attempts bring Arroyo before an impeachment court in the Senate. She also allegedly appointed a close friend of her husband to the post of Ombudsman.
Today, Arroyo faces arrest and Filipinos are happy that she would finally be compelled to explain for her many illegal acts when she was president.