It was a four-day drama that gripped the country, finally ending Friday with former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo getting arrested on election fraud charges while confined at a hospital.
Arroyo had attempted to leave the country Tuesday night, after the Supreme Court overruled a government-sanctioned travel ban. The former leader and her husband were being investigated for allegations of corruption and poll fraud.
In what government spokesperson Edwin Lacierda described as a "high drama" event, Arroyo arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila in an ambulance and was seen wearing a neck brace as she was wheeled out and taken inside the terminal.
Arroyo has reportedly been suffering from a rare bone disease, which, after three unsuccessful operations this year, now needs to be treated abroad, according to her spokesperson.
But the government has repeatedly denied her request to travel, citing inconsistencies in her statements and improving health based on the evaluation of her doctors, as well as the government's. The biggest concern is that she might never return to face prosecution. And even as the Supreme Court had effectively lifted the travel ban, the government stood firm - Arroyo was not going anywhere.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said that at that point, her office had not received a copy of the Supreme Court resolution, and was therefore not obliged to comply. Her defiance drew both praise and flak as fears of a constitutional crisis were raised.
"We must respect the constitutional rights of the petitioner. If there is no charge filed against her, the Constitution allows her the right to travel and we must respect it," said Midas Marquez, spokesperson of the Supreme Court.
Tuesday night ended with Arroyo not being able to board her flight. From the airport, she went straight to the hospital, where she spent the next three days. And as the copy of the Supreme Court resolution landed on De Lima's desk, it was a matter of speculation when she might try to leave again.
That day could have been Friday, as the Supreme Court reaffirmed its decision to allow Arroyo to travel out of the country. But in a move that had the wheels of justice suddenly turning swiftly, the Commission on Elections filed election fraud charges against Arroyo in a local court, and the judge subsequently issued an arrest warrant.
"It is our desire that truth and accountability prevail and that the Filipino people be given the justice they truly deserve," De Lima said.
This marked the culmination of President Benigno Aquino III's campaign against corruption, which was the centerpiece of his election campaign last year.
But some critics question the hastiness of the action, saying it could be a desperate move by an administration that is hanging on the promise of fighting graft and corruption. After much rhetoric and with little to show for - until Friday - letting Arroyo go could have spelled a political disaster for Aquino.
Still, the executive and judiciary appeared to be at odds. While De Lima says the Supreme Court's ruling is now rendered "moot and academic," Marquez, the court's spokesperson, maintains that the high court's decision holds. However, he agrees with De Lima on one point.
"If you're going to ask whether the former president can still leave, she is now barred because of the warrant of arrest," Marquez said.
Arroyo will be staying at the hospital for the night, according to De Lima. She also said that if the circumstances necessitate it, the government will not object to a hospital arrest. She said she has spoken with Aquino, who is now in Bali for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit.
"The president told me to treat Ms. Arroyo with utmost respect in consideration of whatever condition she has," De Lima told reporters.
Arroyo is the second Philippine president to face trial, the first being her predecessor Jospeh Estrada, who was convicted to plunder and sentenced to life imprisonment, but was later pardoned by Arroyo. If convicted, she could face up to 40 years in prison.
During her nine-year term as president, Arroyo, now a congresswoman, had survived numerous impeachment and coup attempts. She is accused of conniving with local and election officials, two of whom have also been charged with electoral sabotage, to tamper results of the 2007 elections to favor her political party. She also faces allegations of using government money for her election campaign.
Arroyo's lawyer, Raul Lambino, has filed a motion asking for the lower court to stop proceedings against his client, saying that only the Sandiganbayan, a special high-level court that handles charges against government officials, has jurisdiction over the case.