Arroyo endorses Estrada’s trip

MANILA, Nov 17:  Philippine President Gloria Arroyo endorsed today a petition by her detained predecessor Joseph Estrada seeking leave from his corruption trial to have medical treatment in the United States.

Estrada has asked a special anti-graft court to allow him to seek treatment in the United States for severe arthritis.

Arroyo "sees it in the public interest to adopt a policy of humanitarian compassion for a former President given his reported condition", her spokesman, Ignacio Bunye, said in a statement.

"This is a sincere gesture and it is unfair to read politics into it," Bunye said, reacting to accusations by critics that the move was politically motivated ahead of the May elections, with Estrada still a popular figure.

The statement stressed though that Arroyo left it to the anti-graft court to decide on Estrada's request.

"The executive has simply laid down a viewpoint on a public issue and has never interfered with the decisions of the court," Bunye said.

Estrada was ousted by a popular revolt in 2001 amid a corruption scandal. He was replaced by Arroyo, then the Vice-President.

He faces life in prison if convicted of corruption.

Groups that helped oust Estrada have warned that if he were allowed to leave the country, he would flee. — AFP

18/11/2003

Bron : New Straits Times Online

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