Battery of high-profile lawyers ready to defend ex-president
MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said the camp of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo does not expect fair treatment from the government, as shown by how she was “brazenly” arrested on Friday.
He said Arroyo is also a victim of persecution because of the way the government railroaded cases against her.
In an interview with ANC, Topacio downplayed the statement of President Benigno Aquino on Saturday night that the government is ensuring fair trial for Arroyo, who was arrested on Friday after a Pasay court found probable cause on her links to an electoral sabotage case.
Of Aquino’s promise, Topacio said: “He’s pulling my egg, I mean my leg. If we were not able to get fair treatment during the preliminary investigation [into the electoral sabotage case], how do we expect fair trial from the courts?”
His statement is obviously a pun of an earlier one, where he said he is willing to bet a testicle if the Arroyos, after being allowed to go abroad for medical purposes, will not return home.
Topacio said Aquino’s statements are all farce, considering how his government “made use all power in its command to thwart the Supreme Court.”
In a separate interview with reporters at St. Luke’s in Taguig, where Arroyo is confined, Topacio said Aquino should already stop his “cacique mentality.” He said, “[Aquino thinks the whole Philippines is his Hacienda Luisita.”
The high court issued on Tuesday a temporary restraining order, which lifted the travel ban against the Arroyos.
Instead of following, however, the executive department insisted the high court should hear its motion for reconsideration first before implementing the stay order. The Arroyos were consequently barred from leaving the country.
A dramatic attempt was seen on national television also on Tuesday, when Arroyo stepped out of an ambulance only to be brought to the hospital hours after.
The high court’s order, reiterated on Friday, was consequently superseded by the electoral sabotage case filed.
Nonetheless, a battery of lawyers are now preparing for legal actions that will be filed first thing on Monday, Topacio said.
A team led by former special prosecutor Jose Flaminiano and former Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera will question the arrest before the Pasay court.
Former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza was also tapped earlier in a case before the high court.
Topacio, on the other hand, will question anew before the high court the constitutionality of the joint DOJ-Comelec panel that investigated the electoral sabotage complaint against Arroyo.
“We hope that the high court will take a long and hard look at the constitutionality of the panel. Its subsequent acts should be held in abeyance and the arrest will eventually be [dismissed],” he said.