- Arroyo’s hailed acquittal seen as end of political persecution
- Duterte, UN hand seen in Arroyo release
- Duterte criticized for policy of accommodation in Arroyo case
HUMAN rights advocates hailed the Supreme Court acquittal of former president now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of plunder charges, while her erstwhile tormentors led by President Benigno Aquino III, insist on Arroyo’s culpability for “misuse of the people’s money intended for the poor.”
In dismissing the plunder charges, the High Tribunal has “found insufficient evidence of stealing P366 million in state lottery funds between 2001 and 2010,” during her presidency.
Not a few believed Arroyo was a victim of political persecution under the Aquino presidency. “The whole thing of using political power to persecute political enemies, this must stop. I must be the last victim,” Arroyo said after her release from detention.
Former President Aquino, under his program “Matuwid na Daan”, promised to “get the scalp of high-profile personalities”; relentlessly pursuing Arroyo’s plunder cases. One other celebrated “scalp” claimed by the Aquino administration was that of the late former Justice of the Supreme Court Renato Corona who had penned the decision which ruled that the Aquino-owned Hacienda Luisita be distributed to its farmer tenants.
The Supreme Court acquittal having happened immediately after Rodrigo R. Duterte’s ascendancy to the presidency led many to believe he had a hand in Arroyo’s acquittal. Duterte was also heard saying in one of his campaign speeches that he will free Gloria Arroyo should he win the presidential race.
His possible hand in the Arroyo acquittal was bemoaned by followers of former president Aquino, who said “despite his supposed macho image, Duterte should be charged with an unwarranted policy of political accommodation.”
Widespread expression of sympathy for Arroyo, who was detained for five years despite suffering from a spinal ailment, had also exerted moral pressure that is perceived to have helped in the final release from detention of the former president.
International Human Rights lawyer, Amal Allamuddin, the wife of famous actor George Clooney, had earlier brought Arroyo’s case before the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD); a body under the UN Commission on Human Rights.
Clooney had wanted the UN to persuade the Philippine government to release Arroyo, who has been under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Centre (VMMC) in Quezon City.
Another British barrister, lawyer Larry Gadon, filed a petition before the United Nations for the “violation of Mrs. Arroyo’s human rights.”