Children fall ill during wait for Arroyo

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 August, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 August, 2002, 12:00am

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo drew criticism yesterday after nine child deportees had to be rushed to hospital while enduring a nearly four-hour wait for her.

The children were all treated for dehydration.

About 1,450 deportees arrived in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, in the southern Philippines, on Thursday morning after a 12-hour voyage by sea on the steel deck of a navy ship.

When the ship docked, the deportees were told not to disembark as Mrs Arroyo wanted to welcome them home personally. At first they were pleased, but eventually they grew angry.

Social workers only fed the children at 2pm. But the adults were told to wait for Mrs Arroyo. She finally arrived at 2.40pm.

Poe Gratela, head of Migrante International, accused her of using deportees as another photo opportunity for re-election. The president, however, seemed unaware of the long wait. 'The boat arrived at noon, the deportees were fed and initially debriefed,' she said.