THE shame of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s inhuman ordeal under the administration of Benigno BS Aquino 3rd goes on, waiting for intervention and closure from this nation’s basic decency and moral sense.
The news last week that the Court of Appeals affirmed last September a decision by a Pasay city Regional Trial Court (RTC) allowing President Arroyo to post bail in the electoral sabotage case filed against her, roused me to join many in welcoming the decision.
I thought the happy news would be swiftly followed by her release on bail, much as Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile got his release on bail posthaste.
But before the Arroyo family could fully digest the news, the administration, on instructions from the Palace, swiftly scrambled to dampen public enthusiasm and stop the wheels of justice from rolling. It announced that GMA will still remain under hospital arrest because of another case which she is still facing.
This is the plunder case filed against her by the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly mishandling Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.
In this case, it was alleged that Arroyo took part in a conspiracy to defraud PCSO. But oddly, all of her alleged conspirators have already been let off the hook and freed. And the principal witness, an Aquino appointee to the PCSO, has admitted under oath that she has no proof whatever to implicate Arroyo.
Yet even with the evident collapse of the case, Arroyo was not allowed to post bail or summarily freed by the graft court.
The administration has played GMA’s legal ordeal like a yoyo. When it was not the PCSO case keeping her in detention; it was the electoral sabotage case that did it. Now, with the collapse of the sabotage case, the PCSO allegation will again bear the weight of keeping her in detention.
Time for the nation to say ‘Enough’
I submit that it’s time for the nation to say, “Enough.” This nut of a case which our justice machinery appears unwilling and unable to to resolve justly and humanely must be brought to an end by popular demand.
This is not a matter for President Aquino to decide. He is not the nation. This is a decision for our courts, who are collectively a separate branch of government with the Supreme Court as their apex.
It was in these circumstances that I lighted on the provocative title of this piece, which calls vividly to mind Patrick Henry’s famous line, “give me Liberty or give me death,” which incidentally helped to spark the American revolution.
The first time I thought of my title, I recoiled – it might bring bad luck and the premature demise of President Arroyo, considering the state of her health and presumably her despondency over her prolonged and mindless hospital detention at the Veterans Memorial Hospital.
But what the heck! Delicacy should not stand in the way of plain humanity toward a leader, who at one time we were proud to elect and call our president and commander in chief.
Aquino’s mind marinates in poison
Be careful, a friend has warned me; maybe inducing Arroyo’s death by ailment may be precisely what her jailor BS Aquino has in mind.
Maybe inflicting cruelty is the true pathology of President Aquino. Aquino’s mind marinates in poison and ill will. His only pleasure lies in seeing his enemies and rivals suffer.
Listen to Nelson Mandela’s insight about his 27 years in prison.
“The challenge for every prisoner, particularly every political prisoner, is how to survive prison intact, how to emerge from prison undiminished, how to conceive and even replenish one’s beliefs.
“Prison is designed to break one’s spirit and destroy one’s resolve.
“Prison and the authorities conspire to rob each man of his dignity. In and of itself, that assured that I would survive, for any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose because I will not part with it at any price or under any pressure.”
I do not doubt that President Arroyo sees her ordeal also in these terms. This is one tough lady whom Aquino is trying to crush. As she did during her Presidency to face her every crisis, she will summon the will to endure, as long as there is life still in her.
This is why the possibility of her not surviving her ordeal must now enter into the calculation of the court hearing her case, and of the nation.
Take the trophy prisoner away
When I first wrote about President Arroyo’s plight in December 2013, I described her as Aquino’s “trophy prisoner,” a trophy for display to the world, like a trophy wife.
President Arroyo has now been in detention for over four years. The pile of cases heaped on her have mostly withered away from lack of evidence and substance. Only the bile of BS Aquino’s dark soul remains.
It’s time to take his trophy away and set her free.
If he wants to keep the trophy, then let us set this condition: Let Aquino bring all 23 APEC heads of state visiting the Philippines next month for the APEC leaders Summit to visit President Arroyo.
Bernard Malamud once wrote, “ It’s not madness that turns the world around. It’s conscience.”
We cannot wait for George Clooney’s glamorous wife to do her thing to set GMA free.
The world must know the horror of her situation now.
For sadly and alarmingly, the trophy prisoner may not be strong enough to wait for Aquino’s rule to expire on June 30 next year.