Emergency landing: Arroyo husband ill
MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 5) First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo was stricken ill Friday night while on a US-bound flight with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, forcing their chartered Philippine Airlines plane to be diverted to Osaka, Japan, Malacañang officials said.
The President, her husband and their party were on their way to the United States en route to Lima, Peru, where she was to attend a summit meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
The President’s plane changed course six hours into the flight, a Philippine Airlines official told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, quoting Philippine Consul Melody Lopez, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that on landing in Osaka at 11:05 p.m. (Manila time), Mr. Arroyo was brought out on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to a hospital, accompanied by the President.
“The President is with him now. He is conscious and … is awake,” Ermita said, quoting the consul further.
He said Mr. Arroyo was conscious and “even smiling.”
An Associated Press report from Tokyo, quoting an Osaka airport police official, said the President remained onboard with her staff and that Mr. Arroyo was the only person that got off the plane.
The news agency report said Mr. Arroyo was accompanied to the hospital by three Philippine consulate officials based in Osaka.
The First Gentleman needed to be confined in the hospital and would stay in Japan while the President continued on to Los Angeles enroute to Lima, the report added, quoting the police official who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.
The police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, citing department policy, said Mr. Arroyo’s condition was related to a chronic health problem and was believed to be not life-threatening.
The news agency report, further quoting the Osaka airport police official, said Mr. Arroyo needed to be confined in the hospital and would stay in Japan.
No other details about her husband’s condition were immediately known, the police official said.
Ermita said at around midnight Friday, “We are now preparing his [Mr. Arroyo’s] doctors here in the Philippines to be flown to Japan in 30 to 40 minutes.”
He identified the doctors as Juliet Cervantes, Jose Ledesma and Rommel Cariño.
Whether President Arroyo would push through with the trip to APEC, Ermita said, “We still don’t know.”
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Anthony Golez said the First Gentleman was “stricken ill” but he could not say the exact nature of the illness. He said “definitely, it’s not GMA,” the President, who was ill.
When asked whether the First Gentleman had suffered a heart attack, Ermita said: “We cannot tell, but we all know that he has had a heart condition before.”
The First Gentleman had a high risk open heart surgery in April 2007 after being diagnosed with a dissecting aortic aneurysm, a serious condition in which a tear develops in the inner layer of the aorta, the large blood vessel branching out from the heart.
Philippine Daily Inquirer sources at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport said the First Gentleman had difficulty breathing on the plane because of the high altitude but his breathing problem eased up as the plane descended toward Osaka.
“It’s not the President but the First Gentleman who has a condition, but as to what it is, we still don’t have any details,” Ermita said.
President and her party left Manila on chartered PAL flight PR-001 at 3 p.m. Friday. Her delegation included Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza and House Deputy Speaker Amelita Villarosa and Representatives Rachel Arenas of Pangasinan province and Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte.
The APEC Leaders’ Summit will be held Saturday and Sunday. After the conference, President Arroyo is scheduled to proceed to Colombia for an official visit. With a report from Juliet Javellana and The Associated Press
View article as posted on INQUIRER.net