MANILA, Philippines - Progressive bloc solons are asking the House of Representatives to object to the alleged special treatment accorded to former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In House Resolution 1942, Representatives Teddy Casino and Neri Colmenares (Bayan Muna), Luz Ilagan and Emerciana de Jesus (Gabriela), Antonio Tinio, (ACT Teachers' Party-List), Raymond Palatino, (Kabataan) and Rafael Mariano (Anakpawis) urged the government to immediately jail her in a government detention center.
They cited the principles of justice and equality in objecting for a possible house or hospital arrest for the former leader.
The militant lawmakers said that despite the lack of an official order from the court, "the arresting team from the Philippine National Police (PNP) did not bring her to a regular detention facility and instead allowed her to be confined under guard in her expensive hospital suite at St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig City.”
The same special treatment was not granted to “360 documented political prisoners, 28 [of whom] are suffering from different ailments, and 11 are elderly but they are hardly allowed to get proper medical attention and treatment.”
The bloc also questioned why Arroyo's mug shots were withheld from the media, unlike that of former President Joseph Estrada's, which were published when he was arrested in 2001 for plunder charges.
Arroyo’s mug shots were shown in mugshots.com, but PNP said these were not real.
"Her invocation of her right to privacy is inappropriate. As such, mug shots in a criminal offense is not a private matter but public in nature, being part of her arrest and prosecution documents,” they said.
The bloc also pointed out that last November 25, the official attending physicians of the former president admitted before the Pasay Regional Trial Court that Arroyo is "fit to leave the hospital" and that her condition has, in fact, improved.
"This would mean that Arroyo and her lawyers were trying to deceive the people and the court by harping on her supposed health problems and deteriorating or even life-threatening condition,” they said.
They said this admission confirms the belief that Arroyo has been faking her illness to justify her travel abroad and to escape arrest and detention.
They also noted that following the forced admission that Arroyo is fit to leave the hospital, Arroyo moved to evade jail detention and sought for another special treatment - house arrest.
They fear that this so-called detention will turn out to be a mansion or rest house, given her huge wealth and property.
“Forms of accommodation so early in the process of the case constitute special treatment given to Mrs. Arroyo and are unacceptable for they only show how the powerful and the rich continue to be given preferential treatment despite the terrible crimes for which they are accused of,” they said.
In a press conference, Tinio explained, “tutol tayo sa La Vista arrest o Forbes Park arrest o magarang kulungan na pwedeng paglagian ni (Arroyo)…May kasabihan nga sa presinto na lang siya magpaliwanag.”
Ilagan said, for her part, a house arrest will only mean “rest” for Arroyo.
She said that the special detention center already being planned for Arroyo, which has an air conditioner and television, is already objectionable. "Maybe it’s humble compared to a dwelling in Forbes Park. It’s no longer a regular detention center. Sa totoo lang, she should go to a regular jail like any other person accused of high crimes."