By Vittorio Hernandez

Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines

A political standoff looms in the Philippines as its chief executive and judiciary head for a showdown over the departure of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to seek medical treatment overseas.

A casualty of the standoff is that current President Benigno Aquino III had to delay his trip to Bali, Indonesia to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit. Aquino moved his trip from Wednesday night to Thursday morning, which caused him to miss the summit opening and several meetings with some ASEAN leaders.

The deadlock was caused by the refusal of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to implement a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court which set aside an immigration watch list that included the former president and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo.

The court maintained that the TRO had an immediate effective which should not be affected by the filing of de Lima of a motion for reconsideration. The court threatened to cite de Lima for contempt, while Arroyo filed on Thursday contempt charges against the secretary for defying the court order.

A lawyer for the Arroyo camp described the insistence by the Aquino government that Arroyo to remain in the country is worse than a martial law state.. The lawyer accused the administration of being worse than a dictatorship because they hide under the cover of the Constitution which they also refuse to follow.

The former president continues to be confined at St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig City due to her weak condition caused by stress when she was stopped by immigration officials on Tuesday from leaving and because of her bone mineral disorder.

The standoff between the Supreme Court and Malacanang goes back to 2010 when Aquino, then a presidential candidate, attempted to block the appointment by outgoing President Arroyo of Renato Corona as chief justice.

When the Supreme Court said that it was within Arroyo's power to appoint Corona during the last days of her term, Aquino deliberately snubbed the new chief justice and had an associate justice administer to him the oath of office when he became president middle of 2010.

As a result, most of the decisions of the court had issued are perceived as adversarial to the Aquino administration, including the TRO that allows Arroyo to travel overseas to seek medical treatment.


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Philippines: Aquino Delays ASEAN Trip Because of Arroyo Legal Standoff Problem | Global Viewpoint