“The process of accountability has formally begun,” Philippine Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday told reporters shortly after Department of Justice (DOJ) personnel started serving subpoenas on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo.
The joint investigating panel of the DOJ and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has formally summoned the Arroyos and close to 40 others to appear at its first hearing on November 3 into the purported fraud in the 2007 midterm elections in Mindanao. “We’re definitely serious in this undertaking,” De Lima said.
But Arroyo’s colleagues in the House of Representatives have paved the way for her to fly out of the country. The travel authority earlier granted Arroyo, now representing the second district of Pampanga province, has been amended and extended up to December 5 to include three more countries where she intends to seek medical treatment. Arroyo is afflicted with a bone mineral disorder, according to her doctors.
The travel authority dated September 16, which covered the United States and Germany, was endorsed by Deputy Speaker Artemio Adaza to the foreign secretary on October 19 to also include Singapore, Spain and Italy. It will be valid from October 22 to December 5.
Adaza signed the travel authority because Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is abroad. But Belmonte earlier said he would grant an extension because he did not consider Arroyo a flight risk.