Apologize to Arroyo, lawyer urges De Lima

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2011 03:28 PM | Updated as of Aug 05 2011 11:50 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - The legal counsel of Jose Miguel Arroyo today presented his passport, baggage tag, travel tax and terminal fee receipts, and a certification from Cathay Pacific to prove the former First Gentleman had records of departure from Manila for Hong Kong last Sunday.

The documents showed his passport was duly stamped by an immigration officer upon departure.

Inocencio Ferrer said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima owes his client a public apology for making it appear that he was lying about his departure.

"She has to apologize to the Filipino people and to Jose Miguel T. Arroyo," he said. "I hope whoever the immigration officer [is] will tell the truth. Siya [Mr. Arroyo] mag-isa gumawa nito sa business center, yung resibo, he paid P1,620 travel tax. I got this from a simple call.”

Ferrer said Arroyo left on Cathay Pacific flight CX 918 last Sunday, queuing up in regular lanes with no special treatment in his departure.

Ferrer said De Lima could have easily checked these records with her immigration desk officers.

No VIP treatment

“According to my ,client he lined up like an ordinary citizen together with other passengers departing that day. His face is very popular. Everybody knows how he looks like. Immigration officers are there, they could have asked the desk officer, airport security, duty free shops prior to his 6 p.m. departure, maybe 4:30 or 5 p.m., so they can verify easily from video footage,” he said.

Ferrer also denounced De Lima for denying his client due process, calling as oppressive her act of putting Arroyo on the immigration watch list.

“We denounce the oppressive act of the DOJ secretary in placing my client Jose Miguel Arroyo under a watch list. How can a lawyer, a former human rights advocate, issue an order denying my client the opportunity to submit [proof]? The right to due process is one of the pillars of the Constitution. It protects everybody from harassment, persecution, injustice.

"The constitutional right to travel has been impaired by the issuance of the watch list. Now, under the watch list [order], he [Arroyo] will be under the  mercy of  the secretary of justice.  It  is no different from the draconian measure during martial law where prior restraint or approval is required before the right to travel,” he said.

No response to requests

Ferrer also scored De Lima’s office for failing to respond to his office’s request to secure copies of the watch list order and the Senate request.

Ferrer said those documents are needed to elevate the situation to the Supreme Court.

Ferrer noted De Lima could have also checked the Closed-Circuit TV (CCTV) footage of his client’s departure or checked with the airlines or call him as the legal counsel.

“Why the undue haste which has placed my client in a bad light? Mr. Arroyo deserves to be given equal opportunity to be heard," he said.

Ferrer said Arroyo is still in Hong Kong awaiting the results of his medical test.

He challenged the government to just impose a hold departure on Arroyo if they are afraid he will escape.

“Prublema ngayon, the constitutional rights of Mr. Arroyo are being trampled upon. I don’t know what’s so difficult giving me a chance to explain,” he said.

Ferrer dismissed speculation that the Arroyos are not really sick.

Ferrer said his client wants to come back and attend the Senate inquiry.

“He wants to come back immediately. Andito family niya, mahal na asawa, apo niya...Malungkot sa Hong Kong [kung] mag isa lang siya doon. He wants to attend the [Senate] hearing, [but] we have to wait for results of the doctor.”