Philippine ex-president Arroyo gunning for another House term

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Despite her illness and a string of criminal cases against her, former Philippine President Gloria Arroyo will seek a second consecutive term as Pampanga representative in next year's midterm elections.

"She will run," Arroyo's spokesperson Elena Bautista-Horn told the Inquirer in Filipino, referring to a conversation she had with Arroyo on Thursday, the day the Pampanga representative posted bail of 1 million pesos (US$23,800) for her temporary freedom.

Arroyo hinted as much when she motored to Pampanga and met with supporters in her district on Friday, two days after she was released from hospital detention.

"I can do more," she said in Kapampangan to supporters who met her at Babo Sacan Elementary School in Porac.

Arroyo arrived in Porac shortly before 2 p.m. Friday. In the morning, fresh from a visit to an alternative wellness center in Tagaytay City, she visited the graves of her parents, former President Diosdado Macapagal and Evangelina, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani ion Taguig City. Before lunch, she returned to the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, where she had been detained for eight months, for a physical therapy session.

The people of Porac gave her a rousing welcome. Over a thousand people, including school children, chanted "GMA! GMA!" They held up placards expressing their love for her.

The crowd cheered and clapped when Arroyo replied in Kapampangan, "We will never part ways."

Wearing a thin blue jacket and soft braces wrapped around her neck and hips, Arroyo walked slowly past a two-room school building built when she was president. She shook hands with people along the way and waved to the children.

On stage, she struggled to speak in a loud voice and with the aid of a microphone remarked in Kapampangan: "There is still justice left in the Philippines. There is respect for the accused and for the rules of evidence," she said.

Judge Jesus Mupas of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court had allowed her to post a P1-million bond after ruling that the government prosecutor who charged her with electoral sabotage had failed to present enough evidence to indict her.

The Sandiganbayan on Friday junked a motion of the Ombudsman to order her arrested again on a separate charge of plunder, saying the Ombudsman did not follow due process.

Arroyo asked her supporters to pray for her so that, she said, she could "face the challenge."

"Projects in the second district will continue," she vowed. "I won't neglect you."

Arroyo enumerated the projects she brought to the district when she was president and assured her audience that she had "always worked for the district," even while under hospital detention.

Mayors Jerry Pelayo (Candaba), Condralito de la Cruz (Porac), Ricardo Ramos (Guagua) and Eduardo Guerrero (Floridablanca) welcomed Arroyo at the school.

Guerrero said it was clear to him that Arroyo was "back to work."

Pelayo, who is also president of the Pampanga Mayors League, said Arroyo "wanted to go back to work since last Wednesday but was discouraged by (her daughter) Luli."

Given her hardworking style when she was president, work could turn out to be good therapy for Arroyo, Pelayo said.

Arroyo gave three boxes of plastic raincoats to Ednalyn Lansangan, the school principal. She entered a classroom and interacted briefly with the students who covered their blackboard with 18 posters welcoming her.

She left without granting media interviews. She proceeded to her house in Barangay San Nicolas 1 in Lubao town. She was accompanied by her son, Ang Galing party-list Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo.

She was slated to stay overnight, attend Mass at 8 a.m. Saturday, then drive back to her La Vista residence in Quezon City.

Horn said Arroyo might also attend the session at the House of Representatives on Monday, depending on her condition after another scheduled therapy session at the VMMC in the morning. Last Wednesday, members of her staff were cleaning her office at the Batasan complex.

Thursday's visit to an alternative medicine facility was recommended by Arroyo's sister, Cielo Salgado. Horn said Arroyo was likely to go through stem cell therapy there.

Stem cell therapy was among the treatments Arroyo was supposed to undergo had she been allowed to travel abroad late last year, Horn said.

To help in Arroyo's recovery, the people around her have minimized talk of politics and her purported persecution by the Aquino administration."Positive energy only...happy thoughts only," Horn said.

With reports from Jaymee T. Gamil and Julie M. Aurelio


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