At the obvious behest of her local lawyers, ex-President Gloria Arroyo’s running to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, a special mechanism under the labyrinthian UN human rights system, is essentially repackaging a violator of human rights into a pitiful victim.
Yet what has the UN said so far? Let’s have a flashback.
In 2007, UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary, Summary and Extrajudicial Executions Prof. Philip Alston indicted the Gloria Arroyo government for gross, vicious and systematic violations of human rights and said that the military under her command was in a “state of denial”for the killings, disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions of hundreds of innocent civilians.
In 2008, the UN Human Rights Committee, made up of 18 international independent experts who are persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights, held the Arroyo government and her posterboy of impunity then Col. Jovito Palparan guilty of violating the rights of human rights defenders Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy for the 2004 extrajudicial killing case based on a 2006 complaint filed with the help of Karapatan and their counsel.
The Committee found the GMA government violated the right to life of every person, the right to liberty and security of persons and the rights to effective remedies under the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
And we are not even talking of the credible and independent findings of the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) and the Citizen’s Council for Truth and Accountability (CCTA) in 2005 in Manila and the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) in 2007 in The Hague. All international opinion tribunals found Atty. Amal Clooney’s client manifestly guilty of perpetuating human rights violations under her watch.
Hence, people, especially the victims, are asking in awe: was the complaint filed by Atty. Clooney before the WGAD either sloppy work or big bucks? Or was GMA’s international lawyer really clueless or even duped? No matter.
Indeed, how many were detained then? And still detained until now? It’s one thing to have a right to counsel of one’s choice. Or the prerogative if not the duty to choose one’s client no matter how evil or despicable. GMA is after all entitled to right to counsel, a right deprived by her and her minions to many during her time when she was strutting like an arrogant queen. Her complaint in the UN would rise and fall on procedural and substantive grounds.
But it’s another thing to say that GMA is a victim. If so, will another famous, glitzy and putatively best international lawyer that money can buy be hired, if not exploited, to repackage President BS Aquino as the paragon of good government and ardent protector of human rights when he becomes the next pathetic “victim” of a slew of cases that is coming his way? That would be a looney thing to do.
Our hearts cry especially for all the women, sick and elderly in prison. But please come to court with clean hands, GMA.
Edre U. Olalia
NUPL Secretary General
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
3F Erythrina Building
Maaralin corner Matatag Streets
Central District, Quezon City
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