Philippines set for court showdown over ex-president

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VietNam News English - 40 month(s) ago 3 readings

The Philippine government, the judiciary and ex-president Gloria Arroyo were set for a court showdown on Friday as she seeks to travel abroad for medical treatment while under investigation for corruption.

MANILA –

As the ailing Arroyo again said that she intends to defy a travel ban imposed by the government, the Supreme Court was to hold a special hearing to tackle the case, which has developed into a political crisis.

The 11:00am (0300 GMT) session would discuss the travel ban and Arroyo's bid to have it lifted, said court spokesman Midas Marquez.

"It is possible that the court will rule on these issues today," Marquez told ABS-CBN television.

The same court on Tuesday ordered President Benigno Aquino's administration – which wants to put Arroyo on trial on allegations of graft and election fraud – to allow the ex-president to travel overseas for treatment.

It ruled the travel ban unconstitutional because Arroyo and her husband had not yet been charged with any crime.

But the government defied the court and she was prevented from boarding her flight to Singapore later that day. Arroyo then checked into a Manila hospital.

She had been driven to the airport in an ambulance, wearing a neck brace to support her spine, which she says is weakened by a rare bone disease.

The standoff provoked Supreme Court threats to throw government officials in jail for contempt for refusing to allow Arroyo to fly.

Marquez said the 15-member tribunal was also expected to address the issue of the Aquino government's defiance at Friday's hearing.

About 100 protesters from a small leftist party gathered outside the Supreme Court in the late morning Friday, disrupting traffic as they demanded that the court and government stop Arroyo leaving the country, an AFP photographer saw. -- AFP

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