Police ready for Arroyo's transfer to VMMC

- Reinir Padua () - December 3, 2011 - 3:53pm

MANILA, Philippines - A police official today said that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may be airlifted from the St. Luke's Medical Center (SLMC) in Taguig City to the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City next week.

Senior Superintendent Ranier Idio, deputy director for operations of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), said that the option of using a helicopter to airlift the former president remains a possibility as far those preparing for security arrangements during the transfer are concerned.

Idio added that the police are also prepared to transfer Mrs. Arroyo to the VMMC by land.

“Our security preparations cover all those travel options,” Idio said in an interview.

The vast VMCC compound has a helipad, apart from a number of huge vacant and open spaces.

Pasay City Judge Jesus Mupas, who is hearing the electoral sabotage case against the former president, ordered last Wednesday her transfer from her suite at SLMC to the “presidential suite” at the VMMC.

Before the order, Arroyo’s camp bared information about an alleged government plot to assassinate the former president, which has been dismissed as "fiction" by Malacañang.

Security arrangements been laid out by the police during Mrs. Arroyo's transfer from Taguig to Quezon City.

Apart from the actual premises of the VMMC, the periphery of the hospital, including traffic flow in routes leading to it will be monitored by different police units.

The National Capital Region Police Office said yesterday that 150 policemen will mobilized to secure the route of the transfer, from Taguig City to Quezon City.

VMMC restricted

After declaring the VMMC as restricted following the court's transfer order, the police today conducted “paneling” of the “presidential suite” of the state-owned hospital.

Even as the presidential suite is already detached from the rest of those inside the VMMC compound, the alley leading to it was also closed early today as policemen started installing security facilities there.

“The paneling is done to detect any bombs and other contrabands,” Idio said.

He said they have installed “booms” to act as blockade for vehicles at different points at the hospital.

“We are establishing these physical barriers to restrict the area from authorized persons,” Idio added.

The 150-square-meter presidential suite is located at the back of the VMMC compound. It is a few minutes’ drive away from the VMMC gate on North Avenue.

As of yesterday, the area could still be accessed by the media, with reporters managing to get near to up to the door of the actual suite.

Today, however, the VMMC guards blocked the alley leading to the suite with policemen setting up camp on the said walkway.

24-hour police security

Idio said there will be control points inside the hospital compound that will be manned by policemen 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Starting today, we are ready for the transfer anytime,” Idio said yesterday.

A “skeletal police team” has also been set up at the hospital compound ready to be augmented any time higher authorities and Arroyo’s camp decide to transfer her from St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City.

During the paneling, K-9 units from the Regional Public Safety Battalion of the National Capital Region Police Office were deployed to the area. They were supported by the Explosives and Ordnance Division personnel of the QCPD.

According to Idio, the presidential suite would be turned over to its security group commander - Superintendent Audie Madrideo – following today’s paneling.

Madrideo heads the QCPD-Station 2, which covers the VMMC.

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