(In high profile, world famous name as ally)
There’s hope that former President and now Pampanga Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo maybe released on bail or placed under house arrest. Cited as reasons in her favor are her poor health and the reported weak case of plunder in connection with the use of intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). Foremost argument against her plunder case is the fact that the crime was not committed by her but by the PCSO through its officials led then by Chairman of the Board Sergio Valencia and former Chairman Manuel Morato.
The news of her release loomed as an international human rights lawyer, Amal Alamuddin-Clooney, brought her case to the attention of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) through the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD). Clooney, in her 42-page complaint, claimed that the continued detention of Mrs. Arroyo despite her poor health and weak case of plunder is a violation by the Philippine government of the rights of Mrs. Arroyo and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), considering that she has not been convicted of any crime.
Many leaders, including Vice President Jejomar Binay, also a human rights lawyer who was an ardent critic of Mrs. Arroyo, had called on the government earlier to free the former president on bail or placed under house arrest but the calls remained unheeded. Attorney Clooney’s bringing her condition to the UN body will surely catch the attention of the world and put pressure on the Philippine government to act accordingly. Even the Commission on Human Rights, a constitutional body, through spokesman Marc Cebreros, has called on the public to respect the integrity of the process involving the case filed by Clooney.
Legal experts have joined the chorus to free Mrs. Arroyo, warning that the country may face international backlash in the wake of Clooney’s complaint. For one,
Filipino international and human rights law expert Antonio La Vinia, dean of Ateneo de Manila University School of Government, admitted that the complaint has sufficient bases to prod the UN body to recommend to the Aquino government the immediate release of Arroyo.
Given the high profile status and famous name of Mrs. Clooney, with world famous Hollywood husband George, Arroyo’s case will take world center stage and exert much pressure on the Aquino administration to respond accordingly.
Ironically, the court has allowed Sajid Ampatuan, a member of the Ampatuan clan and one of those accused in the world-condemned massacre of 58 people, 32 of them media workers, in Maguindanao in 2009, to post bail totaling P11.6 million. Relatives of the victims were dismayed as the public raised concerns that other members of the clan may also be freed soon.
Will Gloria Arroyo soon merit her freedom?
You bet. And it’s only a matter of time.