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By Vittorio Hernandez
Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines
A Philippine government panel tasked with the investigation of fraud in the 2007 elections summoned former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to shed light on her alleged involvement in cheating to make administration candidates win.
The panel, made up of members of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Commission on Elections (Comelec), issued subpoenas to Arroyo, her husband lawyer Jose Miguel Arroyo, former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., former Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos and others to attend a November hearing at the DOJ.
However, there are questions whether the former president, now a congresswoman, will be around. On the same day House Speaker Sonny Belmonte Jr. granted Arroyo authority to seek medical treatment abroad for a rare ailment.
The authority allows Macapagal-Arroyo to travel outside the Philippines, including to countries with which the Philippines does not have an extradition treaty. Her permission to travel expires at the end of the year.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the preliminary investigation of the poll fraud would not be derailed by Arroyo's trip abroad since she will be represented by her lawyers in the Nov. 3 hearing. De Lima said Arroyo's physical presence is not necessary for that hearing because it would just involve furnishing her and other respondents with copies of the 81-page report of the panel.
Although Arroyo had responded well to three surgeries at St. Luke's Medical Center for a pinched nerve, her doctors recommended that the former president still seek medical treatment abroad. Among the countries where Arroyo plans to seek advance medical care are Singapore, the U.S. and Germany.
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World - Government Panel Summons Ex-President in 2007 Election Fraud Probe | Global Viewpoint