Justice for Arroyo and peace with China

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BEFORE discussing the headline topic, a word on ongoing news reports about the planned talks between China and the Philippines on South China Sea issues:

This week media carried reports that Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the bilaterals would not push through just yet.

Reason: His Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, rejected his proposal to include in the agenda the July 12 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling that China’s “nine-dash line” claim over most of the South China Sea violated the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Now, media tends to look for decisive or aggressive angles in official statements, like talks starting or stopping, and big contentious issues erupting or resolving. That’s especially so in the maritime frictions between the Philippines and China, where media has latched onto the David-Goliath narrative and likes to see Manila take on Beijing.


That’s why some reports wondered why Yasay called for sobriety after the PCA ruling, rather than cheering in victory. In fact, with China bitter over the whole case, a measured statement was the prudent response that was also more conducive to the conciliatory talks President Rodrigo Duterte wanted.

Besides certain media, the West and Japan are also keen to play up Sino-Philippine frictions, which portray the Chinese as bully and prod Filipinos to run to their allies—and allow increased allied military deployment and access to their vast, strategically situated archipelago.

Now, here’s the Yasay statement after meeting Wang at the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Summit, in Mongolia: “At this point in time, I am not sure whether negotiations can be pursued. Let the dust settle some more and let’s see how we can open up the road for this kind of negotiation.”

Depending on one’s perspective and interests in Sino-Philippine tensions, the Yasay remark was either a half-empty glass running down to zero talks, or a quarter-full one which both sides are just starting to fill up under bilaterals-friendly Philippine leader.

But what should tip the unbiased reporter toward the quarter-full view are certain plain facts. First, preliminaries toward talks have just begun, so there will be much posturing and zigzagging before anything substantial happens.

Both foreign ministers have yet to get their bosses’ thoughts on their Mongolia encounter. And on Yasay’s part, he had yet to speak with former President Fidel Ramos, designated by Duterte to help set up talks.

So let’s be careful in reading news reports about the very new, but presidentially-driven effort for negotiations to resolve maritime issues between China and the Philippines.

With Aquino out, so is Arroyo
Both the Yasay story and former President Gloria Arroyo’s acquittal involve major Aquino thrusts now being reviewed, if not reversed: the hardline stance toward China and the prosecution of Arroyo, purportedly as centerpiece of Aquino’s anti-graft program.

Aquino and his media allies have long claimed that Arroyo presided over gross corruption, and Aquino was bringing her to justice. The Arroyo camp has maintained that she is innocent and was unjustly detained.

Initial reports just noted the decision, then listed which justices voted for and against it. But spins and slants are coming. So it’s good to recall facts of the case, which may be dropped or distorted, depending on which camp one is in.

The case alleges a conspiracy to plunder state funds in misusing P366 million in intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. The charges followed a 2011 Senate hearing in which an Arroyo-era PCSO general manager stated how such funds were used.

A preliminary investigation by a panel of Ombudsman lawyers found no evidence of plunder, since no funds went to any of the accused, including Arroyo. But Aquino-appointed Ombudsman Conchita-Carpio Morales ordered another probe, which recommended filing charges.

The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan ordered Arroyo arrested in Oct. 2012.The previous July, an earlier non-bailable charge of electoral sabotage in the 2007 senatorial polls was deemed weak, leading to Arroyo’s release on bail. The sole witness against her admitted receiving immunity from prosecution.

Over the years, nearly all co-accused in the PCSO case were exonerated or granted bail, due to weak evidence. Only Arroyo and a PCSO budget officer were detained until the Supreme Court ruling this week.

In conspiracy cases, it is a norm that if evidence is deemed weak against some of the accused, it leads to the release of all. This judicial norm was set aside in keeping Arroyo detained after most of her co-accused were freed.

Sandiganbayan insiders recounted that Aquino called up justices in Arroyo’s case when her bail petition came up for voting. One was offered a Supreme Court appointment, but never got it.

If legal convention was set aside in denying Arroyo bail, the Plunder Law itself was apparently stretched in rejecting her petition to dismiss the case for lack of evidence.

In the ruling against her petition for demurer, the anti-graft court argued that plunder could be committed even if no money went to the accused.

This despite the definition of plunder as amassing, accumulating, or acquiring ill-gotten wealth worth P50 million or more.

Raising some of those issues with the UN Human Rights Council, international lawyer Amal Clooney obtained a ruling that Arroyo’s detention was politically motivated.

The body called for her release, and even ruled that she had the right to seek compensation for her detention, which adversely affected her health.

Arroyo suffers from a misaligned titanium implant in her neck spine, which could cause food to get lodged in her throat, possibly choking her.

With both ball and demurer denied, Arroyo appealed last year to the Supreme Court, which issued a restraining order stopping her trial while her petitions are deliberated.

This month the magistrates voted 11-4 to grant the demurer and dismiss her case. The decision is immediately executory, and the Pampanga representative, who won her third term, went home yesterday.

Readers are invited to go online and post any missing information. And we join Arroyo, her family and friends in thanking the Almighty, the Supreme Court, and the new administration for justice at last.

Let’s hope this kind of unjust and un-Christian treatment does not happen again to any other Filipino.

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16 Comments

  1. Now the time for GMA to files against delima morales n riza hontiveros so they shiukd put in jail

  2. Thank you very much for this very objective, thorough, and Godly piece, Mr. Saludo. May there be more journalists like you and less of those who aren’t like you. God bless our country!

  3. Amnata Pundit on

    Lets hope this kind of unjust and un-Christian treatment does not happen again to any other Filipino…does this include the likes of Erap and Panfilo Lacson who were victims of GMA and her cabal? What I want to see is for her to be held accountable for her re-enacted budget for the years 2004 to 2007, which makes Boy Sayad look like the Virgin Mary with his DAP.

    • I do not understand how Erap was ever a victim of GMA. In fact, I believe that it’s actually GMA who was a victim of Erap, who I suspect was behind the vilification campaign against GMA when the latter took over the presidency when Erap abandoned the post at the height of EDSA II. As for Lacson, I’m actually not sure that he wasn’t guilty of the crime he had been charged with, but that’s water under the bridge now. Lastly, if you have any proof against GMA regarding the re-enacted 2004-2007 budgets, please seek the help of advocacy groups like Social Watch Philippines so that the proper legal proceedings could be started, for the sake of our country.

    • congress did not approve or let the budget hang without any action on their part, especially the senate. if i am not mistaken that re-enacted budget is in accordance with a law or is not illegal since without a budget the gov’t will stop functioning. it happened in u.s.a. so many times. but unlike in the u.s.a., i do not think that we have a law providing funding for necessary agencies like police, armed forces and executive staff to work and get paid.

    • Vincent de Belen on

      If my memory serves me right it’s the failure of the congress at that time that causes previous budget to be re-enacted this is at the height of Hyatt 101

    • Vincent de Belen on

      If my memory serves me right it’s the failure of the congress to pass the national budget at that time that causes previous budget to be re-enacted this is at the height of Hyatt 10

    • “…does this include the likes of Erap and Panfilo Lacson who were victims of GMA and her cabal?”
      what do you mean? pls check your facts again… in my notes, erap’s downfall was instigated by senators’ walkout followed by edsa 2 uprising during his impeachment while lacson’s case goes all the way back to kuratong baleleng massacre when he was paoctf chief .
      i can’t see gma’s connection with the 2 events except that she constitutionally became the president because she was erap’s vice-president.

  4. Aquino never forgets his enemies and always protects his friends. That is his description. All arguments will solely follow this line. Enrile, Estrada , Bong Revilla, Arroyo, Duterte , Honasan are his mortal enemies. But the table has turned. Now Duterte is the president and Arroyo is Dutertes friend. Now Aquino is in trouble with Pdap, Dap, Mamasapano Yolanda relief . He will be the next occupant of Veterans or cell mates of Jinggoy, Bong and coming, Jejomar Binay.

  5. Seems you did not foresee the seeming malice of the delayed submission of the dissenting Justices of their opinions causing now already a two day delay.
    We must remember these names specially the Injustice Leonen (who also commiserates with Grace Llamanzares being a fatherless child)and the Aquino attack dogs ( what are female dogs called by the way ? ) , Sereno, Carpio-Morales and de Lima.

    Worse than disallowing her tv and computers access, they also prevented her from daily communion and mass !!!

    Kindly announce who was her main PNP jailer was, who implemented the inhumane
    treatment. I hope and pray she gets her release already !!!

    • yes diosdado, it is like the attack bulls of benito boy sisi are really into punishing arroyo as long as they can. is it de ja vu again when de lima stopped arroyo from leaving the country defying the sc ruling and coming out, with white hair brillantes, a non bailable offense of election sabotage the following day and getting a judge to issue an arrest warrant the same day just to keep arroyo in jail or hospital arrest, what ever you call it. is sereno waiting for the moral les to file her new plunder case with the sandigan bayan so the friendly justices can issue another arrest warrant on arroyo???

  6. Joshua Schneider on

    Someone is going to have to talk about the 800 kilo gorilla in the room that is preventing talks from getting underway about the start of developing the gold mine that is the South China Sea.

    I guess that fool will be me. Please go to:
    http://www.cfr.org/china/south-china-sea-tensions/p29790

    DU30 and China have a problem… Taiwan or AKA: The United States Puppet State

    China has wanted Taiwan back into the fold since Chan Ki Sheik fled China after the brilliant defence of Nanking and Shanghai. Most of us only remember the rape of Nanking, which was a gross violation of human rights on anyone’s scale. The US has long held that Taiwan was a separate entity from mainland China but this changed in 1972 when President Richard Nixon visited China (first US President to do so, meeting set up by none other than Bush 41… World is a small place sometimes) and stated that Taiwan was part of China.

    This could be the unfolding of the Gordian Knot for DU30. IF he can find the right person to work with China and Taiwan, maybe, just maybe a large part of the South China Sea (or what ever it is called today) can finally be developed and used for the energy poor countries in the Asian Rim.

    I end with a quote from one of the most brilliant of men who penned the US Constitution:

    ” I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.
    – Thomas Jefferson

    Again my thoughts and prayers go out to DU30, his task is a monumental one.

    http://www.cfr.org/china/south-china-sea-tensions/p29790
    http://www.infoplease.com/country/taiwan.html
    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tw.html

  7. This will happen again, not unless the vindictive instigator together with all the moneyed accomplishes gets the same treatment and jail time.

  8. The decision is immediately executory, and the Pampanga representative, who won her third term, went home yesterday.
    ———————————-

    That was supposed to happen but the Chief Justice Sereno is delaying the release by leaving early without signing the release.

    Arroyo is still in jail while Sereno plays games.