Palace: UN working group can't meddle on Arroyo's case

NO ONE could meddle, including the United Nations (UN) technical working group, on the continuous hospital arrest of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a Palace official said Thursday.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government will prepare an appropriate response to the opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which found Arroyo's hospital detention as arbitrary and violative of the international law on human rights.

The UN body asked the Philippine government to reconsider Arroyo's petition for bail "in accordance with the relevant international human rights standards" and to accord the former president "with an enforceable right to compensation" for her continued detention.

Alamuddin Clooney, a human rights lawyer, has been representing Arroyo in bringing the alleged human rights violations against her before the UN.

"The Philippines takes note of the Opinion of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) and will prepare an appropriate response, according to WGAD’s rules," Coloma said, citing a statement of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

He said the Philippines, as a signatory to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, abides by its international obligations and ensures that all individuals are accorded due process under its laws

But he pointed out that Arroyo has been accorded such due process and has availed herself of various legal remedies under Philippine laws.

"It must be noted that there is an on-going judicial process in the Philippine courts, which has sole jurisdiction to decide on such matters. The Philippine Government or any international body for that matter, cannot interfere nor influence the course of an independent judicial proceeding,” Coloma said.

University of the Philippines law professor Harry Roque blamed the Aquino government for the adverse UN opinion.

"It is sad that this administration has once again shown that it is inept both in the field of human rights and criminal prosecution that resulted in the UN siding with [former President Gloria Arroyo]. The decision is an indictment of this administration’s ignorance of human rights law," he said in a statement.

Arroyo is facing plunder case before the Sandiganbayan for allegedly using P366 million in intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office during her term. (SDR/Eugene Abillar/Joy Anne Enriquez, UST interns/Sunnex)

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