The old princess was creating a ditch way out for “better” medication, while controversies slowly shape the puzzle we once refused to solve. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is finally being investigated and mobbed by the cases that were filed against her.
Let Down Your Hair
We are near to what was expected of CGMA, the then accused to have committed electoral sabotage and possible cases of election irregularities, plunder, corruption and human rights violation. Arroyo would be held accountable for these filed charges as ensured by justice secretary Leila De Lima. The justice system is knocking for fair and consistent investigation regarding Arroyo’s iniquity.
It was the ‘Hello Garci’ scandal that paved way on probing Arroyo’s administration. Contrary to what Arroyo pleaded “I am sorry,” Virgillio Garcillano denied that it was him talking over the phone. The phone patch contained Arroyo updating “Garci” about the 2004 election results.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) expressed that Garcillano’s denial on this evidence simply means that he is still under the ‘payroll’ of Arroyo. BAYAN Secretary general Renato Reyes, however, has high hopes in having both Arroyo and Garcillano detained. “The denial isn’t surprising,” he said. He added that it will not weaken their efforts to make these people accountable for the fraudulent 2004 polls.
Many have stepped forward in taking their witness stands against the previous Arroyo administration. Every Filipino is bound by the constitution, whether it’s part of the political system or not.
Institute for the Leadership and Advancement of Women Inc. Officer in Charge Veronica Beranquit cited data that Arroyo’s administration got higher percentages of violence against women, 75 percent from 2009- 2010.
Another data from Philippine National Police’s Women and Children Protection Center in 2009 recorded increased cases of rape, and incest victims. This pushes a demand for P-Noy to sue CGMA for having offenses against women and children.
Another case goes against former President Arroyo. The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office filed a 10-page complaint in the office of the Ombudsman. Listed on the complaint are two cases of plunder discussing Arroyo’s accumulation of the public funds worth P319.9 Million pesos from July 2007 to January 2010. No wonder the PCSO received complaints on their bankruptcy. Previous board members who are said to be involved in the case were named.
23 November, we have just commemorated the death of innocent victims of the Maguindanao Massacre. In its 3rd year of ongoing trials, not even half of the alleged perpetrators are in jail. CGMA is strongly asserted to be involved in this criminal case by relatives of the 32 journalists. Quezon City Judge Catherine Manodon was provided with a 13-page complaint of Ramoncita Salaysay et al. against Arroyo. Her ties with the Ampatuans made her civilly liable for these damages. The wheel of justice runs too slow; we need more than 20 years to settle only one case, private prosecutor Harry Roque said.
Cases are moving forward with witnesses holding evidence and making testimonies. A 12-0 victory instruction for the administration’s senatorial candidates in 2007 elections was said to be CGMA’s command, according to Ahmad Mamucao, Working Consultant and acting Maguindanao information officer of Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. from 2004 to 2005.
No more surprises. Mamucao said he sees nothing illegal about it, and named some men that were part of Ampatuan’s entourage.
Before leaving for Cotabato, Mamucao was handed P 17, 000 by former Maguindanao Administrator Norie Unas to see Arroyo’s political officer Bong Serrano and explain the special operations. He was contacted by Serrano when he reached Cotabato and was ordered to look for a certain Rudy and Alex. Rudy was described as a ‘first cousin of Juan Miquel Zubiri’ who was a senatorial candidate of the Arroyo administration then. It was reported last 3 August that Zubiri gave up his senatorial seat denying that he is involved in the said operation.
Mamucao was instructed by Serrano to proceed to a gym. Together with Rudy and Alex, they carried 60 boxes with fruit seedlings inside. He was told to bring these back to Cotabato City. After driving a safe distance, he checked his cargo and saw copies of genuine election returns, certificates of canvass, statements of votes and ballots.
This leaves evidence on CGMA’s involvement and it played the biggest part. However, there is a possibility that Arroyo won’t be charged for election sabotage in Cotabato last 2007. Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said that Comelec is torn between including Arroyo in the case or not. He says that her involvement in the case was not that strong, but she can also be charged because of the two witnesses’ statements.
Meeting the Dragon
Is she planning to have an escape? On their flight to Hong Kong, Arroyo and her husband, Miguel ‘Mike’ Arroyo was frisked away by the immigration officers before being allowed into the departure area. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered to stop them from going overseas despite a travel clearance issued by the Supreme Court (SC) for the Arroyo couple.
However, Elena Bautista Horn, Arroyo’s spokesperson still insisted the Arroyo’s request to have a medication abroad since CGMA has been suffering from hypoparathyroidism—a condition where the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone—and bone mineral disorder.
CGMA, facing seven charges of plunder and electoral sabotage, will be under everybody’s watch. De Lima affirmed her order with the Bureau of Immigration to direct the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to exhaust all their efforts to implement the watch-list order.
The Department of Justice, however, gave a motion to the SC requesting Arroyo’s attending physician to be given a subpoena—a court order obliging an individual to appear before a hearing. The SC administrator and spokesperson Jose Midas Marquez said that the motion has been denied because these physicians have already appeared during Arroyo’s electoral sabotage hearing in Pasay RTC. De Lima sought for reconsideration of the SC decision. She emphasized the importance of the doctors’ availability during the dialogue since there are medical terms the lawyers needed to understand, and for the doctors to explain their findings.
The professional Code of Ethics of the revised 1987 Philippine Constitution, then, renounced that private doctors are not allowed to release medical findings of their client. This strengthens Arroyo’s camp to sue De Lima’s request of the resident physician’s appearance during the oral argument. However, how would sound justice prevail if CGMA’s condition remains unclear?
Many questioned De Lima after barring the Arroyos at NAIA because eight out of 14 Supreme Court justices allowed CGMA to fly to Hong Kong for medication. De Lima cited DOJ Circular No. 41 as reference to her decision. The order, which was enacted during CGMA’s last term as president, prohibits any official who is under criminal charges from leaving the country.
The Supreme Court was aware of this. Could it be negligence from the SC’s part to allow CGMA to fly knowing she is under investigation, or another way that leads to an escape conclusion?
De Lima clarified that the Arroyos will just be barred from leaving and will not be arrested when spotted in the airport. She even sees no health threat to Arroyo’s medical condition if she will not be permitted to go abroad. But Arroyo’s husband was benefited a separate petition and was issued travel permission by the SC.
The political scene turned more interesting when the media released mug shots of Arroyo. Senior Superintendent James Bucayu, OIC of Southern Police District, said that they do not know how the pictures were released. It was safely kept at Pasay RTC Branch 112.
On a message that was sent to De Lima, it was said that CGMA was seeking asylum from the Dominican Republic. It was not yet verified according to Arroyo’s legal spokesperson, Raul Lambino. He says that De Lima should quit after releasing a false statement that had no real basis aside from a text message. Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Tronosco denied that Arroyo sought for sanctuary in his country. Nevertheless, this intensified the idea that the Arroyos had the plan to escape. With her larger connections to other states, nothing would be impossible, so to say.
There’s more to confirm regarding CGMA’s international ties than the ones mentioned above. After the Dominican Republic’s denial, Senators Gringo Honasan and Miriam Defensor Santiago said that there is a possibility of an International backlash if Arroyo would be sent to police detention facility. Santiago claimed that the country might get “adverse criticisms” and the former president should be put to house arrest.
However, Senators Francis Pangilinan and Panfilo Lacson argued that there can be a bigger backlash if a former president who’s facing charges would be allowed to flee and never return.
Arroyo is under investigation, and it should follow that she needs to be detained. Our justice system is running smoothly on CGMA. She only has herself to blame, added Lacson. It might “send the wrong signal” to the global community, according to Honasan. A former president in jail might help them conclude on how the justice system works here in the Philippines. It might bring a possibility of investors cancelling their negotiation with us.
Santiago asked Malacañang to reconsider CGMA’s place for detention. She sees that detaining the former president in jail would humiliate and damage the presidency. She compared CGMA’s case to Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada who also faced plunder cases. He was sent to a detention cell five days, put in Veterans Memorial and Medical Center, and was finally allowed to stay in his farm which was a “good decision” because he has no plan of escape. Thus, Santiago is demanding for the evidences on CGMA’s case before deciding on where to detain her. It’s an actual comparison between fairness and exclusivity of the law.
If backlash is an issue, Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino said that it will certainly be more embarrassing if we do not abide with our laws just to accommodate a former president. The international community would respect us if they see and hear us punish those who violate our laws. Everybody needs to be equal in the eyes of the law, and house arrest is a “double standard. It is a rest, not arrest,” said Gabriela Representative Luzviminda Ilagan.
Dungeon or Royal Chamber?
Good to hear that Arroyo’s health condition is improving and its turning to be less life threatening. CGMA’s camp is not anymore asking for a hospital arrest which makes De Lima conclude that her condition is not getting worse. Arroyo’s lawyers are silent, so the DOJ decided on pushing forth the detention order instead of a house arrest.
Everyone needs to hear the doctors testify and confirm the said “worsening” condition of Arroyo. Her medical condition makes her cases run slowly, and as every decision-making gets tougher, few people feel pity for her. But choices are still available for Arroyo; the secretary said that other options are private arrest in a government or public hospital or detention in a jail facility.
Weak points on house arrest petition submitted by Arroyo seemed to have caused her demand to fail. The decision would be deferred to the Comelec since they are the primary public prosecutor for Arroyo’s electoral sabotage cases.
President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III still has no say on the decision of Arroyo’s arrest. He said that he will leave it to the court’s decision. To avoid influencing the decision of the court, P-Noy chose not to comment.
San Fernando Pampanga, the district represented by CGMA, was quiet until different organizations in place signed an appeal requesting the court to order the house arrest at Lubao, Pampanga, her father’s hometown. Putting her into house arrest would make her health condition better and for Arroyo to face with strength the cases filed against her. At the same time, to render service for her constituents.
But CGMA requested to be detained in her house at La Vista subdivision in Quezon City, where the high-end life is. Brillantes said that the Comelec’s position is clear: they do not agree on a house arrest, probably not in a private hospital nor in her residence. He also wants Arroyo detained at the Southern Police District Headquarters since she is under its custody after Pasay City RTC issued a warrant of arrest on election sabotage.
The Sick’s Seek
It is a public perception that prevents the deciding of Arroyo’s request of house arrest. Let’s put the justice system up and uphold what is right for the accused ex-official. She is no ordinary person, said a defense lawyer. Her defendants are always asking for “due respect” in running along with her cases due to bone ailment, Diarrhea, and that she’s a former president and a public servant. The law indicated some exemptions but it doesn’t apply to Arroyo’s case.
CGMA: 64, aged enough to handle cases and with health condition that’s recuperating. Arroyo is currently at VMMC in Taguig City where she is under treatment.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad released a statement that the government will shoulder Arroyo’s medical expenses. He clarified that the government would just cover the basic services and Arroyo’s camp still needs to shell out some funds for the other extra services. The Philippine National Police Director General Nicanor Bartolome assured that there will be “strict reinforcement” of visiting hours and that there will be no exemptions regarding security measure.
Rapunzel in the tower
This could be it. Arroyo’s spokesperson disclosed that the former president is finally ready to face her fate. Her lawyer, Raul Lambino said that if P-Noy could not give the same treatment as what was given to Estrada, Arroyo would be ready for it. They conceded that the chance of house arrest was moved out of the option as it was opposed in the court.
The court has not yet decided on it, though. But the DOJ, SC, and Comelec would keep track on the decisions that would be ordered by the high court. CGMA has decided, she is said to be spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically ready for anything else to come.
Disclosed matters may be stuck up in the courts. They may leave patterns to lead us on a new justice system. The people are more concerned on the consequences rather than the process. Arroyo may be the former president and may have health issues, but these should not weaken the stand on quality of justice.
Philippine Daily Inquirer 2011 issues: 31 July, 5 October, 11 November, and 5-7 December
Arroyo eyes La Vista arrest
Arroyo formally asks court to put her under house arrest
Militant solons press Arroyo’s detention in jail
2 senators say jailing Arroyo positive for the Philippines
2 senators warn Aquino against jailing Arroyo
Comelec mulls another poll sabotage case vs Arroyo
Arroyo ready for jail—spokesman
Group wants Arroyo sued over crimes vs women, children
House arrest plea an admission Arroyo ailment not life-threatening
Civil suit vs Gloria Arroyo now in court
Aquino clarifies comment on Arroyo arrest
Supreme Court junks DoJ motion to summon Gloria Arroyo’s doctors
Pasay court summons Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s chief physician
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s constituents want her in Lubao
Where to, Gloria?
Maguindanao massacre trial could take ‘55,000 years’
Ampatuan aide claims Arroyo gave ‘12-0’ order
Jail looms for GMA
Arroyo couple blocked at airport
Arroyo frisked at airport terminal