It’s final: no cell phones, laptops – PNP

December 5, 2011

NO weapons and electronic gadgets including cell phones and laptop computers will be allowed inside the Veterans Memorial Medical Center’s presidential suite where former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be transferred from the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City on Friday.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Nicanor A. Bartolome made this clear yesterday as he said they are wrapping up their security preparations to ensure the safe transfer and stay of the Pampanga representative at the VMMC  where she will be held pending her trial for electoral sabotage.

Bartolome, joined by Quezon City Police District director Chief Superintendent George T. Regis made a final inspection of the VMMC presidential suite Sunday afternoon to have a first-hand look at the bullet-proof facility where Arroyo’s predecessor, former President Joseph E. Estrada, also stayed in 2001.

He told reporters that they observed that final retouches and repairs are still being done at the facility including the main bathroom and kitchen area. He added that the room still lacks the bed which will be used by Mrs. Arroyo when they arrive  past 5 p.m. Sunday.

Bartolome said they were told that the Arroyo staff will prepare their own food. “The hospital will not serve food for the former president. They have their own kitchen where they will be allowed to prepare their food,”

“Hopefully, these fixtures will be complete before Friday. But I can safely say that we are fully ready when it comes to our security preparations,” Bartolome said. However, he said he does not know yet who will pay for the renovations on the executive suite.

Bartolome said they are discussing which visiting schedule will be observed since the VMMC has its own visiting hours while the PNP, just like the Bureau of Jail Management Penology, has its own set of rules when it comes to visiting schedules.

The PNP chief said there will be four police-controlled points in and around the presidential suite. First will be the inspection area where visitors will be searched for weapons and electronic gadgets. Second is the holding area where visitors will have to stay while officers clear their visit with the Arroyo family.

Once cleared by the Arroyo family, the visitors will go to the processing area where they will be asked to surrender other things that are not allowed inside the presidential suite. Last stop is control point no. 4 where visitors have to pass through a walk-thru metal detector and a final inspection.

Bartolome made it clear that nobody will be exempted from their security measures. All have to pass through strict security checks before being allowed entry inside the suite. There is also a single street that will be used in going to the suite.

Although he said they cannot prevent the press from following the convoy of policemen bringing the ex-president to the VMMC, they will be enforcing hospital’s policy on the media.

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