Former Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban stopped short of calling worthless the “mere opinion” of the United Naton’s (UN) body that has supposedly been at the forefront of fighting the plunder-charged Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s “illegal detention”.
Panganiban, in his Inquirer column Sunday noted how the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) reportedly opined that “the detention of former President [Gloria Macapagal] Arroyo (GMA) was arbitrary and illegal under international law … with an enforceable right to compensation”.
The WGAD statement resulted from a human rights complaint filed by international celebrity lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney, who the camp of ex-president Arroyo has wisely used to gain media mileage.
Lawyer Clooney is the wife of swoon-worthy Hollywood actor George Clooney.
Enter Panganiban, who tried to offer level-headed insight amid the sudden glitter that has surrounded the sickly and frail Arroyo’s battle to gain temporary freedom through bail.
“May I add that the controversy is about a mere ‘opinion’ of a UN ‘working group’ which does not have the coercive power of a treaty, or a customary international law, or a decision made after trial and hearing of an international tribunal like the International Court of Justice, or the International Criminal Court, or of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, where the Philippine claim in the West Philippine Sea is being heard,” he wrote.
The legal luminary also acknowledged the statement of Malacañang saying that Arroyo “has been accorded due process and has availed herself of various legal remedies … in Philippine courts, which have sole jurisdiction to decide on such matters”.
In the end, Panganiban said that Arroyo may still be granted bail if her lawyers–citing equal protection of the law–could show that, like Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, their clients is not a flight risk because of her current state and advanced age.
“Ineluctably, GMA could secure her longed-for temporary liberty because of that Supreme Court decision, not of the much-publicized WGAD opinion,” the magistrate said. (Randy K. Ortega)