Rights Violator Gloria Arroyo Must Come to Court with Clean Hands

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)

10 March 2015

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 Secretariat
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
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City, Philippines
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