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(Updated 11:35 a.m.

) The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has found the continued detention
of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo arbitrary and illegal under international law.
In its opinion released on October 2, the five-member UN body urged the Philippine government to reconsider
Arroyo’s bail plea “in accordance with the relevant international human rights standards and to accord Ms. Arroyo
with an enforceable right to compensation… for the deprivation of liberty which already occurred.”
The gist of the UN working group’s opinion was relayed to Arroyo’s counsel in the Philippines Atty. Lorenzo
Gadon via e-mail sent Oct. 7 by international human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney. The latter filed a human
rights violation case against the Philippine government on the former President’s behalf before the UN.
Arroyo has been under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City since 2012
for a plunder case in connection with the alleged misuse of P366-million intelligence funds of the state lottery firm
during her presidency. She is undergoing treatment for a spine disease.
In her e-mail, Clooney said the UN body found Arroyo’s detention illegal under international law because the
Sandiganbayan “failed to take into account her individual circumstances” when it repeatedly denied her request for
bail and fell short in considering alternatives to pre-trial detention.
Furthermore, she said the UN working group also found the “undue delays” in the legal proceedings surrounding
Arroyo’s case an indication that her detention was arbitrary.
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Arroyo camp to file petition

In light of the UN Working Group's recommendation, lawyers of Arroyo will make another appeal to the
Sandiganbayan to grant her bail following the ruling of the UN Working Group. "We might file another petition for
bail at the Sandiganbayan citing the recommendation of UN," Gadon said.

The Arroyo camp said it welcomes the expert opinion of UN and urges the government to comply. "The Philippine
government will lose face if we will not abide by the internationally accepted principles of law," Gadon said.

The legal team maintains that the former President deserves her temporary liberty while her plunder case involving an
alleged anomaly in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds is ongoing. "She should have been granted bail
because the evidence is weak," Gadon said.
‘Politically motivated’

In siding with Arroyo, Clooney said the UN working group recognized that the charges against the former President
are politically motivated since she was detained “as a result of the exercise of her right to take part in government and
the conduct of public affairs” and “because of her political…opinion.”

She said the UN body highlighted in particular the Philippine government’s “defiance of court rulings removing travel
bans” against Arroyo as proof that it is “targeting” the former President and interfering with judicial decisions in her

. He said Arroyo has been accorded such due process and availed of the necessary legal remedies under Philippine laws. Jr.” Clooney handles the case filed by Arroyo at the UN Human Rights Commission. Palace reaction Malacañang on Thursday however said that while it "takes note" of the opinion of the UN body on the continued detention of Arroyo. in violation of a Supreme Court ruling allowing her to seek medical treatment abroad. "Her left hand feels numb as if it's paralyzed because she can hardly move it at times. the UN working group asked the Philippines government to “ensure fair trials which respects all the guarantees enshrined in international human rights law” should it proceed with trying the former President’s case. Arroyo’s health Meanwhile.case. After extensive deliberation. said the Philippines is a signatory to international conventions on human rights. In fact. The UN body based its finding on the government’s resistance to lift the travel restrictions on Arroyo on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s move to stop her from boarding a Singapore-bound plane in November 2011. Arroyo's medical condition continues to deteriorate according to her lawyers. the trials must take place without undue delay. and as such. it ensures that all individuals are accorded due process under existing laws. “In particular. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma. Aside from reconsideration of Arroyo’s bail plea and providing compensation." Arroyo faces plunder charges at the Sandiganbayan which is a non-bailable offense. she said the UN working group backed the arguments presented by Arroyo’s counsel “in full” and held that the Philippine government “failed to refute any of her allegations. Clooney said the UN body received “extensive legal submissions” from both the former President’s side and that of the Philippine government. Before deciding on Arroyo’s case. Arroyo can hardly lift a cup of coffee. it cannot interfere in an ongoing judicial proceeding." Gadon said.” the UN body said. "She continues to suffer as her condition worsens while in detention.

Her lawyers said the Philippine court failed to rule on Arroyo’s bail for over a year. Arroyo has also been barred from accessing any means of communication. 68. including Internet access. which has sole jurisdiction to decide on such matters. given the long period she has already spent in detention and in light of her deteriorating health and need for specialist medical treatment abroad. even though this is required under international human rights law. a mobile phone or a laptop computer. the brief said. under international human rights law. . Throughout her detention. was arrested in November 2011 following the filing of criminal charges against her for electoral fraud. “It is hoped that the UN can intervene on an urgent basis. She was released on bail in July 2012. The PH government or any international body. Summary of claim Arroyo has spent over three years in detention as a result of unproved and politically motivated criminal charges and without any conviction having been entered against her. even though international human rights law requires courts to do so within hours or days of arrest." said Coloma. the Philippine government has failed to protect. In denying bail to Arroyo on this automatic basis. GMA News Arroyo. which “preclude her from performing her role as a democratically elected representative” of a district of Pampanga. including the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights."It must be noted that there is an ongoing judicial process in the PH courts. according to the summary of the former president’s claim to the UN. but was rearrested while in the Veterans Memorial Medical Center on charges of misusing state lottery funds in October of that year.” the summary of claim concluded. for that matter. During this period. Arroyo’s legal counsels have stressed that Philippine law precludes the courts from considering a range of factors that must. respect and fulfill her rights under international human rights law. the Philippine court also failed to give any consideration to the possibility of applying less intrusive alternatives to pre-trial detention. be taken into account in deciding whether pre-trial detention is necessary. —With a report from Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez/KG. cannot interfere nor influence the course of an independent judicial proceeding.

GMA faces two major suits: (1) electoral sabotage. that more compelling than the WGAD opinion—which. resulting in their acquittal. but because of (1) Enrile’s “fragile” health (uncontrolled hypertension. not because the prosecution (the Office of the Ombudsman) failed to present “strong” evidence of guilt. GMA filed a motion in the SBN to change her confinement from the Veterans Memorial Medical Center to her home at 14 Badjao Street. where the Philippine claim in the West Philippine Sea is being heard.The United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) was widely reported to have 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 SBN denied her plea for bail in the PCSO case. Quezon City. Veering away from “strong evidence of guilt” as the only constitutionally-mandated ground to grant bail in capital offenses. Significantly. however. which have sole jurisdiction to decide on such matters. in the Sandiganbayan (SBN) for her alleged participation in the illegal use of P366 million in funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). Bail was allowed. she is renewing her plea for bail. voting 3-2. Aug. once affirmed to be final (through a denial of the pending motion for reconsideration). 2015) granting bail to Sen. She was granted bail by the RTC (affirmed by the Court of Appeals) because the prosecution failed to prove that “the evidence of guilt is strong. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. Only GMA and another coaccused. Leonen. However. this 8-4 decision was heavily criticized by the dissenting opinion of Justice Marvic M.V. . However. or a decision made after trial and hearing of an international tribunal like the International Court of Justice. whether we agree with it or not.F. or a customary international law. were neither acquitted nor granted bail.” Bail denied. also a capital offense. Demurrer also denied. or the International Criminal Court. and exacerbations of asthma-COPD overlap syndrome) and (2) advanced age (“already over 70 years old at the time of the alleged commission of the offense”). Juan Ponce Enrile. Failing in her bid for demurrer and bail. in the regional trial court (RTC) of Pasay for her alleged role in the manipulation of the 2007 election results in Maguindanao. and (2) plunder. Since this is not a capital offense. I believe. a capital offense. he was allowed to post a bail bond of P500. was downgraded to malversation. said that GMA “has been accorded due process and has availed herself of various legal remedies … in Philippine courts. former PCSO executive Benigno Aguas. 18. a Special SBN Division of five. Otherwise.” And 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. La Vista. the defense filed a “demurrer” on the ground that the evidence presented had failed to prove GMA’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. coronary calcifications. it becomes a binding precedent. and asked her to present countervailing evidence. is not binding on our judiciary—is the recent Supreme Court decision (Ponce Enrile vs Sandiganbayan. Equal protection. arrhythmia. The charge against another coaccused. and former Commission on Audit chair Reynaldo Villar) was granted. or of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. the demurrer of her four coaccused (former PCSO chair Manuel Morato. In view of the recent WGAD opinion. After the prosecution finished presenting its evidence in the PCSO case. former PCSO chair Sergio Valencia.000. former PCSO board members Raymundo Roquero and Jose Taruc. the Court said that the SBN “arbitrarily ignored the objective of bail to ensure the appearance of the accused during the trial…” True. denied the demurrer and ruled that the prosecution has proven her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Commenting on this opinion obtained by international celebrity lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney.” However. as Coloma correctly pointed out. she would be at risk of conviction. and this was noted in the WGAD opinion.

not of the much-publicized WGAD opinion. like Enrile. 'Violation of international law' Larry Gadon. said Arroyo should be given compensation for having been deprived of her liberty. GMA could secure her longed-for temporary liberty because of that Supreme Court decision.Citing the equal protection of the law. according to WGAD's rules." Gadon said. revealed that the UN's WGAD deemed the continued detention of the former president as arbitrary. Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Malacañan has noted the opinion of a United Nations (UN) body that the detention of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo violates international human rights laws. composed of five independent human rights experts." With an ongoing process in Philippine courts. A complaint was filed before the UN by international lawyer Amal Alammudin-Clooney last February on behalf of Arroyo. "The Philippines. Philippine courts "have sole jurisdiction to decide on such matters. as a signatory to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Arroyo is facing plunder charges over the alleged misuse during her term as president of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds amounting to P366 million. But it insists that only a Philippine court can "decide on such matters." Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. . Although aware that the opinion is not legally binding. Arroyo's camp is urging the Philippine government to comply as a member state of the UN. "Lalabas na kahiya-hiya tayo sapagkat hindi tayo nagko-conform doon sa international standards of human rights. Ineluctably." "The Philippines takes note of the opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) and will prepare an appropriate response." he said. The UN body. one of Arroyo's lawyers. said on Thursday (October 9). she is not a flight risk because of her fragile health and advanced age. GMA’s lawyers could obtain bail if they can show that. Coloma explained that neither the government nor any international body could interfere with the proceedings. abides by its international obligations. thus violating international human rights laws.

Gadon added that the e-mail sent by Clooney on Wednesday (October 7) mentioned that the UN body recognized the charges against the former president as politically motivated and that the Sandiganbayan First Division failed to consider Arroyo's "individual circumstances." Rulings 'based on law' Reacting to the UN body's opinion. Last April." as she is not a flight risk due to her poor health. but it remains unresolved. she filed a bail petition before the Supreme Court. Arroyo suffers from cervical spondylosis." he added. a chronic ailment that affects the joints in the neck. Gadon told the media on Thursday that the president was happy on reading the WGAD'decision as "her rights were given recognition. ." "We should base our resolution on the facts and evidence of the case. Justice Efren de la Cruz of the Sandiganbayan First Division said that the court's "mandate is not to be influenced by any public opinion or whatever. She is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC). That's all. Arroyo's repeated petitions for the anti-graft court to grant her temporary freedom have been all denied.