Hope and history will rhyme for GMA


I owe Ms. Amal Alamuddin Clooney a huge apology.

While I was writing the “give her liberty” column on President Arroyo (“ Gloria Arroyo: Give her liberty, or give her, God forbid”, Manila Times, Oct. 6), Ms. Clooney was coincidentally writing online to GMA’s lawyers to give them the happy news that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has ruled that the continued detention of President Arroyo is arbitrary and illegal under international law.

I had inserted in the conclusion to my column the following lines: “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.”

Alas, I could not have been more mistaken. Amal has been doing her thing and more. And the world knows now about Arroyo’s ordeal.

The serendipitous meeting of my column and the UN decision is one of those things that make you believe there’s a force out there who can make the stars align and right the course of events.

Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney captured the phenomenon in one deathless poem:

History says, Don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.
Seamus Heaney,

The Cure at Troy
Hope and history are inexorably rhyming for President Arroyo.

GMA, I dare say, will be home for Christmas, and there is nothing that BS Aquino can do now against the rising tidal wave of justice.

Aquino’s defeat at UN total
The defeat of President Aquino at the UN was emphatic and total. He sent there government lawyers and deployed our UN mission to argue his case. And they lost on every point of law and fact.

In its opinion, which was released on October 2, the five-member UN body urged the Philippine government to reconsider Arroyo’s bail plea “in accordance with the relevant international human rights standards and to accord Ms. Arroyo with an enforceable right to compensation… for the deprivation of liberty which already occurred.”

The gist of the UN working group’s opinion was relayed to Arroyo’s counsel in the Philippines, Atty. Lorenzo Gadon, via e-mail sent Oct. 7 by international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. She filed a human rights violation case against the Philippine government on Arroyo’s behalf before the UN.

In her e-mail, Clooney said, the UN body found Arroyo’s detention illegal under international law because the Sandiganbayan “failed to take into account her individual circumstances” when it repeatedly denied her request for bail and fell short in considering alternatives to pre-trial detention.

In siding with Arroyo, Clooney said, the UN working group recognized that the charges against the former President are politically motivated since she was detained “as a result of the exercise of her right to take part in government and the conduct of public affairs” and “because of her political…opinion.”

She said the UN body highlighted in particular the Philippine government’s “defiance of court rulings removing travel bans” against Arroyo as proof that it is “targeting” the former President and interfering with judicial decisions in her case.

The UN body based its finding on the government’s resistance to lift the travel restrictions on Arroyo as evidenced by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s move to stop her from boarding a Singapore-bound plane in November 2011, in violation of a Supreme Court ruling allowing her to seek medical treatment abroad.

Before deciding on Arroyo’s case, Clooney said, the UN body received “extensive legal submissions” from both the former President’s side and that of the Philippine government.

After extensive deliberation, she said the UN working group backed the arguments presented by Arroyo’s counsel “in full” and held that the Philippine government “failed to refute any of her allegations.”

The reaction of Arroyo and her team to the UN decision was naturally ecstatic. The reaction of the wider public has been uniformly positive and effusive.

Filipino legal experts were mostly in agreement the UN’s decision is timely and that Aquino’s persecution of Arroyo has gone far enough.

Law Professor Harry L. Roque opined: “This administration has once again shown that it is inept both in the field of human rights and criminal prosecution. The decision is an indictment of this administration’s ignorance of human rights law.”

Government reaction stony and stubborn
Malacañang’s reaction was predictably stony and stubborn.

The pasty-faced Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma was dutifully robotic. He declared that that while the Palace “takes note” of the opinion of the UN body on the continued detention of Arroyo, it cannot interfere in an ongoing judicial proceeding.

He said: “It must be noted that there is an ongoing judicial process in the PH courts, which has sole jurisdiction to decide on such matters. The PH government or any international body, for that matter, cannot interfere nor influence the course of an independent judicial proceeding,”

The reaction from the Sandiganbayan, to whom the UN ruling was partly addressed, was equally stony and defiant.

Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Samuel Martirez, hoping to be noticed by Malacañang, declared: “Whatever the United Nations says about Arroyo’s detention, is not legally binding.”

The magistrate added that the issue with Arroyo’s detention has nothing to do with human rights but whether she should be given bail under the non-bailable plunder offense lodged against her.

Sandigan justices are bound to insist on this position, because many of them are holding out for an appointment to a higher or better place on the bench before BS Aquino leaves office on June 30 next year.

Aquino trapped in a contradiction
If Malacañang and Sandidganbayan insist that UN norms and UN thinking are irrelevant and have no persuasive effect on the actions of our government, then they must explain why in the case of our South China Sea dispute with China, our government is totally relying on the UN and its processes in its efforts to prevail in the dispute.

If the UN is irrelevant to us, why are we running to the world body and UN members for support?

If the UN is toothless in the Arroyo case, why do we expect it to develop teeth for the China dispute?

How will Aquino answer when China responds, as it has in fact already responded, that the UN has nothing to do with the dispute?

What is his course of action now?

The administration can talk all it likes that Arroyo has been given due process, and that local courts have sole jurisdiction over her, but in the end it all comes to the hard reality that President Arroyo is the victim of arbitrary detention and unjust persecution.

The tidal wave of justice has already formed and is on its way to our shores. BS Aquino could drown.



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  1. We always talk about fairness when it comes to justice, and innocence until proven guilty. But still, how many suspects have been jailed for years and after being found innocent have not been compensated by the government? How you say a person is innocent when you are punishing him or in jail? Does innocence mean jail term? Whatever is the definition of JUSTICE, it’s hard to understand why innocence, even if the case filed against is plunder, equates with jail term.

  2. Dear Yen, please read the case of Ibarra’s father in Noli Me Tangere. He was accused by the conquistadors of killing the tax collector, by stopping a Spanish man with a limp who was hitting the children with his ‘tungkod’. When the case was almost finished, another case was brought up to keep him in jail until his death. This is the same to GMA’s case and on the Binay family’s case.

  3. mga kababayan tigilan nga natin ang paka-ka konsinti kay ex-presidente GMA kung ano sana ang na-itakdang kasalanan di diyan mo na sa nasabing hospital arrest niya total hindi naman bilanguhan o kulungan ang naro onan niya ngayon, at di ba di un-bailable talaga ang kaso niya.

  4. I earnestly pray that GMA will be vindicated from all her tribulations. Time will come that God will hear our prayers.

  5. If the UN study what GMA did to Erap, they will surely will surely call for GMA to rot in jail for the rest of her life, but if it were up to me, I will fry her in the electric chair.

  6. It’s not suprising why the BS Aquino government doesn’t recognize the the findings of the UNWG. It’s just a confirmation of the “matuwid na daan” catch phrase; it’s selective and, in effect, vindictive and divisive. But, the inevitable effect is that this administration is in a big diilemma because this government is seeking the sanction of the UN against China and, yet, it doesn’t believe all that the international agency does. Perhaps, we mightg as well be an “island” — ourselves!

  7. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention by deliberate omission of the plunder case against Gloria Arroyo, have rendered an opinion based on what they claim as arbitrary detention and unjust persecution of GMA. I think the UN body’s opinion have placed a burden on the Philippine government’s case against Arroyo, but it does not diminish the fact that GMA’s plunder case is a non-bailable crime under Philippine law and that it trumps any international law.

    I think the detention is fair and legal based on the charges against her. I don’t see unjust persecution.

    • you have forgotten that arroyo is the only detained without bail among her so called conspirators in the pcso fund plunder case. the court gave bail to her co-accused but not to her. so how can you say that plunder is not bailable when her co-accused are now free on bail. do not forget that plunder is a conspiracy among a group and the act of one is the act of the others in that group. as per yen makabenta, these justices of the sandiganbayan are kowtowing to aquino’s wishes for their promotion to the sc and not what the law says.

    • he send government lawyers and deployed our UN Mission to argue and they lost on every point and fact. Now you go home and not abide by the decision?

  8. This present inconsequential Regime led by the inutile president in malacanang should better reconsider its stony position regarding the continued incarceration of CGMA. Atty Amal Clooney and the UN may give the present inutile president reasonable time to think its position, but in the end if it fails act, Atty Clooney may elevate this case to the International Court of Justice and have the inutile president as an accused for Crime against Humanity and it will be curtains fall for him as the roles between the two could be reversed……

  9. laguatanlawzen.com on

    The stubbornness of BS Aquino amounts to gross idiocy and stupidity. His robotic lawyers around him is basically not helping him. All of them dances to the discordant tunes of their stupid master even if their heart dictates that BS Aquino is utterly wrong in all angles of his action. Malas ang Pinas na nagkaroon na President na walang isip.

  10. Leodegardo Pruna on

    The law of convenience is actually being exercised by this administration. If we are on the side of law, we have to believe that “due process” must be observed and that an individual is deemed innocent until proven guilty. So far nothing has been proven about the guilt of GMA and like Binay only allegations. The administration has to speed up and urge the Courts to facilitate the hearings so that the earlier we resolve the matter of guilt, the earlier we dismiss and get back to our life. God bless the Philippines.

  11. Talaga namang sira ulo si ABNOY.Sa mukha pa lang ng gago ay mukha ng SINTO-SINTO.Puro paninisi,paghihiganti,panunuhol ang pinaggagawa ng gago.

    • I agree with you. PGMA has suffered tremendously from the vindictive and incompetent Penoy aquino. God help PGMA.

  12. GMA is local case. West Philippine sea islets invaded by China is international case. GMA goons murdered many a democratic Filipinos protesting against her illegal power grab. GMA was a murderer for power. Throw GMA in criminal jail.

    • I agree GMA case is not International ..she is Filipino and Philippine government is at her…Amal Clooney and the UN is meddling…maybe if a foreigner jailed in the Philippines hospital Amal could have a case, but then there are more international case Amal could pick with her heart desire…like the four prisoner in Iran or the woman in Indonisia for drug trafficng…GMA had a choice not to be confined if she was honest to herself and to the people…if she was not so greedy and did not sell Philippine to China.

  13. Why do we write ”Justice” and not simply ”justice” or judge?
    Those people are mentally inept and corrupted to the bone.

    The Supreme Court should ACT NOW and show real leadership… and force the corrupted to be clean.

  14. My view on this matter is based on the realities of justice Philippibne style. Our leaders here know more than foreigners. The detentions of high calibre crooks in our country is one major accomplishments of the present administration. The people knows who they are and they know how the Visconde case on appeal turned out. With the influnce of money and politics, people know how cases would turn out to be.U.S. Senator Lugar was once branded “wala ka sa lugar”.The detentions are more in consonance with justice philippine style.Let our leaders and people decide.

  15. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    09 October 2015

    Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is charged with the non-bailable crime of “rigging the 2007 elections” before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, and charged with the other non-bailable crime of Plunder before the Sandiganbayan.

    No matter what the Opinion of the UN is in her case, it is the Laws of the Philippines that are binding on GMA.

    There is no way the Philippines will release her on the strength of the judgment of the UN. She will have to wait for the judgment of the Philippine judiciary. If she is found “Not guilty as charged” in both cases, then she regains her freedom. If not, ineither case, she goes to prison.


    • If one doesn’t believe the UNWG, why seek the help of the UN to sanction against China? “As charged” is not it; there got to be investigtation to warrant the non-bailable nature of the crime “as charged’. Her other cases were found to be non-plunder and. therefore, she can apply for bail. The last one she was charged for plunder (?) has something to do with the sweeptakes (PCS) fund which was “alleged” to have been plundered. Again, this has to be investigated to justify the crime as ‘charged’. Her cases are taking so long, which is tantamount to ‘unair’ treatment. The rationale of the findings of the UNWG should be analyzed, taking into consideration the entirety of GMA’s case involving her medical need. There iseems to be s a political ‘color’ to all the charges, as the first two are bailable.

    • Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      October 10, 2015 at 4:25 pm
      he send government lawyers and deployed our UN Mission to argue and they lost on every point and fact. Now you go home and not abide by the decision?

  16. Mar Padilla, Jr. on

    The Philippine court has the jurisdiction of all cases in the Philippines. If the U. N. working body wants to submit somethings regarding some particular case or to notify the Philippine government that a certain case was judge arbitrarily or the judgment was do not conform with the international laws as it is written now, then the only recourse is to advise the Philippines government to amend the laws to conform with the standard international law.

    • The conformance to international law is not a problem here. The problem lies in the Sandiganbayan which is evidently controlled by the Pinoy government. All of GMA’s co-accused including the former PCSO chairman (Manoling Morato) have been granted bail except her. Two of the 5-member committee handling her case had already given their dissenting opinion stating that the evidence against her is weak and therefore, she is entitled to post bail just like her co-accused. The prolonged trial is intentional. There is no conviction up to now despite 4 years in detention which has impaired her heath.

  17. Mr. Yen is correct, absolutely. When the PNoy government cannot do anything more against the Chinese intrusion into our shores, it ran to the U.N. for help, mentioning that only the United Nations and the member countries can help Philippine predicament. However, PNoy and his lying lapdogs belittle the decision of the U.N. body that Aling Gloria is detained illegally, that she is being persecuted because of political reasons. In short, PNoy is again telling the people, the public that if and when they need favors from the U.N. or other similar organizations, it is okay and they want to be heard but if it is against them, it is not okay. The student council is at it again.

  18. GMA has been jailed for almost 4 years now and still no conviction on any cases filed against her…the prolonged detention without being proven guilty of any wrong doing is a testament of the injustice and political persecution done by the Pinoy administration. Justice delayed is justice denied.