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Party-list lawmakers decry 'special treatment' for Arroyo

November 28, 2011 3:37pm

Progressive party-list lawmakers at the House of Representatives on Monday expressed their opposition to the proposed house arrest and other forms of “special treatment” for their colleague, former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
 
In House Resolution 1942, seven sectoral representatives said that giving “preferential” treatment to Mrs. Arroyo will give a “negative impression” on the country’s justice system.
 
“Such forms of accommodation… 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 the resolution.
 
The lawmakers who filed the resolution were Bayan Muna party-list Reps. Teodoro Casiño and Neri Colmenares, Gabriela Women’s party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana de Jesus, Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano, and ACT Teachers’ party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio.
 
They said placing Mrs. Arroyo under house arrest will violate the principles of equality, justice and fairness that should be accorded to all Filipinos. The former state leader is currently on hospital arrest after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) filed an electoral sabotage case against her before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court.
 
“Arroyo should recognize that putting her behind bars in a regular jail is within the bounds of what is just and humane, unlike the experience of thousands of human rights victims under her watch that suffered far worse,” Palatino said in a statement.
 
Arroyo wants house arrest
 
Last Friday, Mrs. Arroyo’s lawyers asked the Pasay court to allow the former president to be under house arrest while facing her electoral sabotage case. Her camp had earlier petitioned for a hospital arrest due to her bone mineral disorder and hypoparathyroidism.
 
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Saturday that there is no more basis for Mrs. Arroyo’s camp to be placed under house arrest since her health is already improving. She said Mrs. Arroyo should be moved to a detention facility.
 
Mrs. Arroyo is currently under police custody at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City after the Comelec accused her of giving orders to rig the 2007 polls in favor of administration senatorial candidates during her incumbency.

Authorities, however, have already prepared an air-conditioned detention area for Mrs. Arroyo at the Southern Police District headquarters in Taguig City, where she may be transferred once she is released by the hospital.
 
‘Accepted detention measure’
 
One of Mrs. Arroyo’s House allies, House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman, meanwhile, said that house arrest is an “accepted” measure to secure the safety of an accused and prevent his or her escape.
 
“House and hospital arrests are accepted detention measures in lieu of prison confinement, particularly during the pre-trial and pre-conviction phases of criminal prosecution,” he said in a separate statement.
 
He also cited some foreign leaders and personalities, such as Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, Chile’s Augusto Pinochet and even Galileo Galilei, who were once placed under house arrest.
 
Lagman said Mrs. Arroyo should be placed under house arrest since the constitutionality of the Department of Justice (DOJ)-Comelec panel, whose findings were used as basis for the electoral sabotage case, is still being questioned before the Supreme Court.
 
Three weeks ago, Mrs. Arroyo’s husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition asking the high court to declare as illegal and unconstitutional the legality of Joint Order 0001 issued last August 15, 2011, which created the joint DOJ-Comelec panel. - KBK, GMA News
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