Former Philippines President Gloria Arroyo Barred from Leaving Country
The November 15 photograph of former Philippines president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in a wheelchair and neck brace at the Manila International Airport became something of a media sensation last week as Arroyo is now appealing the government's decision to not let her fly out of the country for medical reasons.
The case, the latest in a long series of Philippines dynastic political battles, pits Arroyo against the government of President Benigno Aquino III.
Arroyo, 63, survived corruption charges and coup attempts in her nine years as Philippines President. Now, less then two years after stepping aside, the privileged daughter of a former president faces the prospect of spending the rest of her life in jail.
According to the Associated Press, Arroyo has been charged with electoral fraud after relatives of 57 people slaughtered in the Philippines' worst political violence sued her, on the grounds that she could have prevented the murders.
At least two Arroyo allies, including a former governor of an autonomous Muslim region, are among about 100 suspects being tried on murder charges in the Maguindanao province massacre that occurred two years ago Wednesday. The dead included 32 media workers, which led the Committee to Protect Journalists to call it the worst death toll for the press in recent history.
CNN reports that the Arroyo case "could indeed be a turning point" for President Aquino’s government, marking its newly assertive stance on corruption.
As Aquino told an audience at Asia Society New York this past September, "Our administration is committed to transformation: from a country where nice guys finish last, to one where those who deviate from the straight and narrow will face punishment for their crimes.
"Our goal is to empower the citizenry so that, regardless of who is in power, the citizenry demands the authentic rule of law. The task I have assigned to my colleagues in government is to demonstrate this by means of sustained reforms that foster merit, transparency, and accountability."
Philippines President Gloria Arroyo listens during the session 'The Emerging Asian Community: The Role of the ASEAN' at the World Economic Forum in Davos 25 January 2008. (Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Images)