Palace guarantees Arroyo's human rights

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 05 2014 10:16 PM | Updated as of May 06 2014 06:16 AM

MANILA - Malacanang on Monday said the human rights of detained former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be upheld.

In a press conference, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said, “Hindi po ‘yan matter of confidence, matter of duty po sa bahagi ng administrasyon na tiyakin na wala pong nilalabag na batas.”

Coloma reacted to questions regarding international human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin’s supposed offer of assistance for the former president. Alamuddin gained prominence after her engagement to Hollywood star George Clooney was announced.

The Philippine Star columnist Carmen Pedrosa said Alamuddin questioned the continued detention of Arroyo despite her health. Alamuddin’s mother, Baria Alamuddin, is Pedrosa’s long-time friend.

The Sandiganbayan earlier denied Arroyo’s bid to be granted bail in the plunder case she is facing in connection with the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.

In 2011, the Aquino administration also prevented her from leaving the country to seek treatment abroad for complications in her cervical spine surgery amid orders from the Supreme Court.

Arroyo’s previous bids for limited house arrest during the yuletide seasons and her birthdays have also been rejected.
Coloma said the government respects Arroyo’s rights to seek counsel.

“We respect the right of former President Arroyo to avail herself of counsel. Iginagalang natin ang karapatan ni dating Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo na kumuha ng mga manananggol na may kakayahan at iginagalang din natin ang karapatan ng kanyang manananggol na gawin ang nararapat hinggil sa kanyang usapin.”

Coloma insists the administration bears no ill will towards Arroyo, whom President Aquino has repeatedly criticized and accused of bad governance. “All that we have maintained all throughout our watch is that there is no ill will towards the former president and we are simply following the processes of law.”

Meanwhile, he kept Malacanang’s distance from the PCSO plunder case, which is reportedly beset with problems of lack of evidence and lack of witnesses.

It was reported that Arroyo’s bail bid may be granted in the end unless the prosecution can produce more witnesses.

“Iginagalang po natin ‘yung proseso ng Sandiganbayan gaya po ng paggalang natin sa lahat ng proseso ng ating mga hukuman,” Coloma said.

The PCSO plunder case was filed at the Sandiganbayan in 2012.