Detained ex-president Arroyo to run again for Philippine Congress

Detained ex-president Arroyo to run again for Philippine Congress

MANILA - She may be detained, facing criminal charges and reportedly suffering from a crippling illness but former president Gloria Arroyo intends to run again for a seat in the Philippine Congress, her lawyer said Tuesday.

Arroyo, who has been held in a government hospital since 2011 while facing criminal charges, will run for a third term as congresswoman of her home province of Pampanga in 2016 elections, said lawyer Raul Lambino.

Despite being unable to leave detention, Lambino said he is confident the 68-year-old will win the seat, which she currently holds, again.

"Expect her to win over anybody," Lambino told AFP.

"She was able to run in 2013 when she was already under arrest and she was able to win overwhelmingly," he said.

Arroyo, who served as president from 2001 to 2010, was arrested while in a private hospital in 2011 for alleged voter fraud during her presidency.

She was later detained at a military hospital and slapped with additional charges of misuse of state lottery funds.

However, under the law, Arroyo is allowed to run for office as long as she is not convicted of a crime.

The trials for graft and election fraud are still going on but the defence has been able to get repeated delays in the proceedings. Lambino declined to speculate on whether any of the trials might be resolved before the 2016 election.

When she stepped down in 2010, to be succeeded by her arch-critic Benigno Aquino, Arroyo was elected as representative of her home province of Pampanga.

Critics initially said this was a ploy to escape criminal charges and retain political influence even after stepping down from the presidency.

During almost a decade in office, Arroyo had become highly unpopular due to allegations of corruption. However her family retains its influence in its bailiwick, north of Manila.

Lambino said she has been able to perform her duties as a lawmaker even while in the hospital.

Arroyo's doctors say she is suffering from a degenerative bone disease that requires her hospitalisation. They have also unsuccessfully sought government permission to let her fly abroad for treatment.

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