Gloria Arroyo: My conscience is clear
Manila - Ex-Philippine president Gloria Arroyo has declared her conscience is clear and trusts the courts to clear her of vote rigging, in her first public comments since being charged with election fraud.
The 64-year-old, under police guard at a Manila hospital since her arrest three weeks ago, faces life in prison if found guilty of conspiring with aides to rig the 2007 senatorial elections.
"I have peace of mind because my conscience is clear," Arroyo told GMA television in an exclusive interview, portions of which were aired by the network on Friday.
Arroyo alleged that the charge was concocted to boost the popularity of her successor, Benigno Aquino, whom she accused of neglecting the economy.
"The current administration is employing demagoguery to ruin me," she said.
"It's sad that our current leaders are using black propaganda and prejudgment against me. As a result, our economic growth rate has weakened, and hunger and poverty is spreading."
Arroyo stepped down in 2010 after nearly a decade in power with some of the worst popularity ratings of any modern Philippine leader, largely because of the widespread belief she was an extremely corrupt president.
Aquino has said she will likely soon face an array of other charges for corrupt acts she allegedly committed while in power, including plundering state coffers.
But Arroyo insisted that she believed the judiciary would affirm her innocence in the vote rigging and any other case.
"I believe in the rule of law," she said. "I think I did my best. I have great faith in God."
Arroyo also said she was recovering well from what she described as a rare bone disease that required three operations this year, but added there was no guarantee of avoiding a relapse.
A smiling Arroyo wore a dress and stood inside her hospital suite as she showed a reporter a long scar running straight down the back of her neck, and a second one on her throat, from the operations.
Arroyo was due to be moved from the exclusive hospital where she has been staying to a military-run medical facility on Friday while waiting to go on trial, with the court proceedings potentially taking years to complete.