Former Philippine leader Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was moved to intensive care yesterday to stop her suffering a possible heart attack, a week after being arrested in hospital on corruption charges, authorities said.
The 65-year-old suffered chest pains on Thursday and tests showed her heart was not receiving enough blood due to blocked arteries, said Nona Legaspi, director of the Manila military hospital where Arroyo is being detained.
"Every condition of the heart should be treated with urgency," Legaspi said, adding that given Arroyo's condition, she should not leave hospital for a scheduled court appearance on Monday.
Legaspi said Arroyo could not be detained elsewhere, as government prosecutors want, until doctors determine that she is fit to leave the hospital. "The patient is not dischargeable at this time," she said.
Arroyo is due for an initial court appearance next week on a charge that while in power she plundered about US$8.8 million in state lottery funds to finance her election campaigns. The former president could face life in prison if she is found guilty.
Arroyo was arrested on October 4 at the hospital, where she was being treated for a long-term spinal illness, and has been under police detention there since.
Arroyo ended nearly a decade in power in 2010 as one of the country's most unpopular presidents, amid allegations that she had cheated to win elections, embraced feared warlords as allies and was involved in widespread corruption. Her rival, Benigno Aquino, won a landslide election victory in 2010, largely on a vow to fight corruption and prosecute his predecessor.
Arroyo was charged in another court in November last year with vote fraud for allegedly conspiring to rig the Philippines' 2007 senatorial elections. The former leader spent most of the following eight months at the same military hospital. She was granted bail in July, with the court saying the government's case against her was weak.
In December, Arroyo was also charged with corruption for approving an allegedly graft-tainted contract with a Chinese telecom firm to set up a national government broadband system.