Sandiganbayan says Arroyo’s plunder case is criminal, not political

By , on March 9, 2015

Former president, now Pampanga Representative, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Photo courtesy of GMA Facebook page.
Former president, now Pampanga Representative, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Photo courtesy of GMA Facebook page.

MANILA — The anti-graft court on Monday clarified that the case of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is not political in nature.

Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang said that the nature of Arroyo’s plunder case was classified as criminal.

“The case of Mrs. Arroyo is not political, it is criminal in nature. Only political cases are the one being elevated to international court,” Cabotaje told reporters when asked about her thoughts on the move by international human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney to elevate the case of the former president.

International human rights Clooney had filed a human rights violation case against the Philippine government before the United Nations for the continued detention of Mrs. Arroyo.

Clooney had filed the case last Feb. 26 before the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD), a body under the UN Commission on Human Rights.

She argued that the case concerns Arroyo’s protracted detention by the Philippine government despite her age, health condition and the court’s continued denial to grant her bail.”

Sandiganbayan First Division Chairman and Associate Justice Efren dela Cruz echoed Cabotaje-Tang’s legal opinion, saying that only the Philippine anti-graft court has the jurisdiction over Mrs. Arroyo’s case.

“Atty. Clooney should study first the case before making comments. The case of Mrs. Arroyo is purely criminal in nature and plunder is a criminal case without bail recommended,” dela Cruz said.

Clooney wanted the UN to persuade the Philippine government to release Arroyo, who has been under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City for a plunder case in connection with the alleged misuse of Php 366-million intelligence funds of the state lottery firm during her presidency. She is undergoing treatment for a spine disease.

The 37-year-old barrister specializes in international law, criminal law, human rights, and extradition cases. Among her prominent clients are Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Timoshenko. She has been named a visiting professor on human rights by the Columbia Law School in New York.